Advent Bible Study

A Guide to Bible Study Methods Found in Scripture

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    Bilbe Study on John's Gospel

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  • Understanding Parables According To The Gospel Of Mark

    Jesus explains how to understand parables

    This book explains how Jesus taught simple lessons so His disciples could understand all parables and scripture with simple lessons a child can understand.

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    Learn about what Jesus taught about the relationship He needed on His way to the cross.

    Jesus teaches about relationships based on Mark's Gospel available in print.

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    Bible Study according to the Gospel of Luke

    The best book on Bible Study you will find.

  • John Chapters 1-10 eBook

    An in depth look at Jesus' ministry from John's Gospel

    Learn how Jesus followed God's Spirit throughout His ministry.

  • The Tabernacle, Temple, and Sanctuary: Genesis 1 to Exodus 27

    In depth study on the Tabernacle from Genesis 1 to Exodus 27

    Verse by verse study of the Tabernacle the way Moses recorded details

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    The prophecies Jesus fulfilled Bible Studies

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  • The Tabernacle, Temple, and Sanctuary

    Book about the Tabernacle based on a verse by verse look at its foundation and design.

    Look into the material, labor, and services associated with the Tabernacle.

  • 10% Off Print Books

    Finding the same faith people found once they found Jesus.

    An eBook download link containing a series of short stories on faith based on the Gospels.

Introduction to Advent Bible Study

Posted by Ez1 Realty on September 10, 2008

Jesus teaches parables sower

Jesus teaches how to understand all parables. I was excited to find this study method recorded in Mark’s Gospel and had to write a book showing how Jesus explained each step in a series of lessons following the parable of the sower. Now you have it. Proof from the Bible simple study rules do exist. Locked away in God’s Word…. all you need is the right key.

One of the comments I often hear about Seventh-day Adventists is that they know their Bibles. But how well do we know the Bible? I was told the following story by a very close and dear friend who saved my life. You see, he is the one that taught me how to study the Bible.

I felt a deep need to study the Bible. I went from pastor to pastor asking if they could show me how to study the Bible? Sadly none of them could show me how to study. The only thing any of them could do is share a set of printed Bible studies. This was not enough to satisfy the fire I had inside of me. I searched book after book on Bible study. None of them offered any type of help. The desire of my life was not being fulfilled.Eventually my friend began to notice a pattern emerging from the writings of Ellen White. I have also discovered these patterns. One of the details that sets Ellen White’s writing apart is her use of metaphors. She uses a lot of them and there is a reason for that. Like many others I believe God wanted to guarantee this information would not be forgotten. Ellen White preserved these metaphors within her books for generations to come. God knew that as distractions increased, the Bible would be laid aside. Ellen White’s books do not take the place of the Bible nor add to the Bible but help to teach us how to gain a deeper understanding of it’s parables and prophesies.Ellen White explained many of these metaphors such as, “The parable of the unfruitful tree represented God’s dealings with the Jewish nation.” (CG 27) and “The foul leaven of idolatry, thus brought into the church, continued its baleful work.” (GC 43)

Unfruitful tree = Jewish nation

leaven = idolatry

The more you read Ellen White the more you will notice these patterns emerge. At times she will include the Bible text where these metaphors are found.

It was Christ that had brought Israel as a goodly vine out of Egypt. Psalm 80:8. His own hand had cast out the heathen before it. (GC 19)They had been seeking the knowledge of God more than all hid treasures, counting it “better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.” Proverbs 3:14. And the Lord revealed to them the great things of the kingdom. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him; and He will show them His covenant.” Psalm 25:14. (GC 312)

Vine = Israel

Hidden treasure, gold , silver = Knowledge of God

How can these metaphors be used? These metaphors can be used to explain verses in the Bible that may be difficult to understand. Following is an example of a word study.

KJV Ezekiel 17:24

24. And all the trees of the field shall know that I the Lord have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish: I the Lord have spoken and have done it.

What is God talking about here? Is there a reason God is referring to trees? What do these trees represent? To find the answer you need to look up other verses in the Bible that use the word tree.

KJV Isaiah 61:3

3. To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

KJV Psalms 37:35

35. I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree.

KJV Psalms 52:8

8. But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.

The Bible tells us a tree is used as a metaphor for people. Now that we have learned that a tree can represent a person we can rewrite the text to see if it agrees with the context and teachings of the Bible.

And all the people (trees) of the field shall know that I the Lord have brought down the high people (tree), have exalted the low people (tree), have dried up the green people (tree), and have made the dry people (tree) to flourish: I the Lord have spoken and have done it.

There are other examples and detailed steps on how to use this method of study on the Seven Steps to Doing Your Own Bible Studies link.

This is the same type of Bible study uses and taught by William Miller. More information can be found under the link William Miller.

In her writings Ellen White quotes William Miller’s Rules of Interpretation.

Those who are engaged in proclaiming the third angel’s message are searching the Scriptures upon the same plan that Father Miller adopted. In the little book entitled “Views of the Prophecies and Prophetic Chronology,” Father Miller gives the following simple but intelligent and important rules for Bible study and interpretation:– {RH, November 25, 1884 par. 23}

“1. Every word must have its proper bearing on the subject presented in the Bible; 2. All Scripture is necessary, and may be understood by diligent application and study; 3. Nothing revealed in Scripture can or will be hid from those who ask in faith, not wavering; 4. To understand doctrine, bring all the scriptures together on the subject you wish to know, then let every word have its proper influence; and if you can form your theory without a contradiction, you cannot be in error; 5. Scripture must be its own expositor, since it is a rule of itself. If I depend on a teacher to expound to me, and he should guess at its meaning, or desire to have it so on account of his sectarian creed, or to be thought wise, then his guessing, desire, creed, or wisdom is my rule, and not the Bible.” {RH, November 25, 1884 par. 24}

The above is a portion of these rules; and in our study of the Bible we shall all do well to heed the principles set forth. {RH, November 25, 1884 par. 25}

The early Adventists used word studies to prove doctrine and establish fundamental beliefs. Other evidence is covered in other sections of this site including examples from books written by early Adventists. Word studies are indeed the lost jewels in William Miller’s dream.

This site is dedicated to collecting and providing evidence of the use of word studies by early Adventist. More importantly this site has been established to teach you how to use this method of study to enhance your relationship with God.

KJV John 21:2525. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

KJV 1 Corinthians 2:10-16

10. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 12. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.


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Coals from the Altar Isaiah 6

Posted by Ez1 Realty on December 26, 2017

Isaiah 6:1-5 NLTse It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. (2) Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. (3) They were calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!” (4) Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke. (5) Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.”

Imagine seeing God sitting on His throne. Isaiah looked up to see the most majestic site of his life. The view was too much for words. God was too large and bright to ignore. It couldn’t have been a vision of any mortal king in any palace in this world. The light was too bright. There were no shadows. Beings around the throne were not like anyone on earth. They were huge. Isaiah felt like he was to be an ant crossing a busy sidewalk. Beings towered over Isaiah while he wandered why he was there. Isaiah felt out of place. His stature was much smaller, his clothing looked like dirty rags compared to the glistening materials worn by those gathered around the throne. Isaiah had no idea how large the courtroom was, it seemed to go on forever, and was open to the outside. The sky appeared to be a much deeper blue than on earth. Stones in the Sanctuary glistened like highly polished marble, brighter than Isaiah had ever seen.

A long rode made of shimmering material went from the entrance of the temple up to the throne. Isaiah was captivated by the way the light reflected from the robe as his eyes slowly followed the long train of the rode. Just as Isaiah looked up, thick smoke covered the throne, and filled a good portion of the Sanctuary. The cloud drew attention to Isaiah, who felt even smaller as eyes were trained upon the little figure in the courtroom.

Beings began flying around. Each had six wings. One set of wings covered their faces, something Isaiah considered a sign of respect for the One who sat upon the throne. Or it may have been a way to make their visitor feel less intimidated.

All at once all of the beings began shouting, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!” The entire Sanctuary shook, as if the voices moved the entire foundation. Isaiah looked for something to hang onto. Seeing how their voices frightened Isaiah, the room fell silent. Isaiah felt a sense of security in the silence.

The Coal

Isaiah 6:6-13 NLTse Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. (7) He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.” (8) Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.” (9) And he said, “Yes, go, and say to this people, ‘Listen carefully, but do not understand. Watch closely, but learn nothing.’ (10) Harden the hearts of these people. Plug their ears and shut their eyes. That way, they will not see with their eyes, nor hear with their ears, nor understand with their hearts and turn to me for healing.” (11) Then I said, “Lord, how long will this go on?” And he replied, “Until their towns are empty, their houses are deserted, and the whole country is a wasteland; (12) until the LORD has sent everyone away, and the entire land of Israel lies deserted. (13) If even a tenth–a remnant–survive, it will be invaded again and burned. But as a terebinth or oak tree leaves a stump when it is cut down, so Israel’s stump will be a holy seed.”

It took a few minutes for Isaiah’s heart to stop racing. As soon as he settled down, he took a look around the room. No one was moving. All eyes were focused on him. It seemed even the beings flying over held their position facing Isaiah. Movement across the room caught Isaiah’s eye. One of the winged beings came from the alter carrying a burning coal in a tong and hovered just in front of Isaiah. For a moment Isaiah thought he was lost. His mind quickly went over every detail that could possible make him unclean. In an instant, all those ceremonial laws seemed less than adequate for the surroundings he found himself in.

Isaiah braced himself as the winged being held out the burning coal, allowing Isaiah to examine it. Isaiah handled burning coals before. This one was different. Coals always leave ashes and embers behind. Isaiah didn’t notice a single ember falling from the coal when the being carried it from across the room. The coal seemed much more like a burning rock, a much harder surface than wooden coals. The black, hard surface seemed to do more than burn. It appeared to be on fire but omitted no smoke. Fire seemed to dance around on the surface, and appeared to originate from inside the coal.

After a few seconds the being held out the coal, touching Isaiah’s lips. Something inside Isaiah told him to trust the being, as well as the burning coal. It wasn’t hot. It didn’t burn. What just happened? The angel said to Isaiah, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.” What did he mean by, “my sins are forgiven?” Was that all there was to it? Is that all people need to go through? Isaiah thought, “hold on for a second. Why me of all people?”

Then Isaiah heard the LORD ask, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” Isaiah had to think about that question for a minute. Everything seemed to be moving so quickly. Then it dawned in Isaiah, maybe that is why I am here, to get a message to deliver. Isaiah said, “Here I am. Send me.” As soon as he said that, it suddenly dawned on Isaiah, the room is filled with much larger beings more capable than himself to deliver a message directly from God. Isaiah was certain his request would be ignored.

Much to his surprises, God addressed Isaiah’s request. “Yes, go, and say to this people, ‘Listen carefully, but do not understand. Watch closely, but learn nothing.’ Harden the hearts of these people. Plug their ears and shut their eyes. That way, they will not see with their eyes, nor hear with their ears, nor understand with their hearts and turn to me for healing.”

The message didn’t seem to make much sense. Was God going to send a host of those countess angels to harden hearts, shut up ears, and close eyes, or was that the message Isaiah was to deliver? It all seemed so confusing for a second.

It began to dawn in Isaiah, he was supposed to block their ears, and close their eyes. But how? Sure he was in God’s presence at the moment, but what’s going to happen the minute he gets back on earth? If he told anyone about what he saw, no one would believe him. That was it, the missing piece of the puzzle. Isaiah had to deliver his message just like God would, or any of those beings in the Sanctuary would. All Isaiah can do is tell the truth, give people the details, and leave it in their hands.

As soon as Isaiah understood the message, the next obvious question was, “Lord, how long will this go on?” Isaiah wanted to know how long this message was to be given, in other words, how long he has to tell people about his experience in Heaven. Isaiah thought about how many times his message has to be rejected, how many people will laugh at him, how many times he will see doubts in people’s eyes, and how many arguments he will have to endure. The task didn’t seem easy.

Isaiah knew when he would tell his story, people for the most part would reject everything. Some people have the attitude, if it didn’t happen to me, it couldn’t be true. If God didn’t talk to me, why would He talk to Isaiah?

After a minute to reflect on the message, God told Isaiah how long the message has to be delivered. “Until their towns are empty, their houses are deserted, and the whole country is a wasteland; until the LORD has sent everyone away, and the entire land of Israel lies deserted. If even a tenth–a remnant–survive, it will be invaded again and burned. But as a terebinth or oak tree leaves a stump when it is cut down, so Israel’s stump will be a holy seed.”

Suddenly Isaiah looked around the Sanctuary again, comparing it to the towns, cities, country, and wasteland God mentioned. There was no comparison. Isaiah volunteered to leave Heaven and return to this world with the message. Even being the littlest one in Heaven would be better than being back on earth. Isaiah thought to himself, “what was I thinking?”

Isaiah had no idea how long the message would last. Isaiah knew there was a physical interpretation, which most likely would be seen in his day, and a spiritual interpretation taking place in some far distant generation. Isaiah looked around the Sanctuary, up at the throne, and knew he could complete his part of the job. But what about those future generations? Who would approach God’s throne to receive the same view, encouragement, and message? Isaiah would stand up for Jerusalem when it was time for her to fall, but who would take on a much larger role, standing up for the earth when the world was about to fall?

Posted in Advanced Studies, Bible Study Aids, Bible Study with Context, Christian Books, God's Love, Visions of Heaven | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

You Are My God Psalms 63

Posted by Ez1 Realty on December 23, 2017

Psalms 63:1-11 NLTse O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. (2) I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. (3) Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! (4) I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. (5) You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy. (6) I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. (7) Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. (8) I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely. (9) But those plotting to destroy me will come to ruin. They will go down into the depths of the earth. (10) They will die by the sword and become the food of jackals. (11) But the king will rejoice in God. All who trust in him will praise him, while liars will be silenced.

What does it mean to search for God? Really, how do we search for a Spirit? Why would we have to search for a God who knows who we are, what we are doing, and where we are at all times? A general rule of Bible Study tells us, when we see something unusual, we have to look deeper for a spiritual answer.

The word seek or search indicates, we are either lost, or lost something. Can it be fair to assume, we lost a close connection with God. In Eden, Adam and Eve had direct contact with God, who met with them everyday. Is that relationship still available to us everyday?

When we look at the belief most Christians share, God is everywhere, knows everything, and is always near. What do we need to do to bridge that gap? David told us, he had to earnestly search for God. Another study method tells us to look up the meaning of a key word to find out what David was actually referring to. In this case, we’ll look at the word search.


H7836שָׁחַר shâchar shaw-khar’

A primitive root; properly to dawn, that is, (figuratively) be (up) early at any task (with the implication of earnestness); by extension to search for (with painstaking): – [do something] betimes, enquirer early, rise (seek) betimes, seek (diligently) early, in the morning).

A little bit of practical digging showed us a concept we should be familiar with, but how many people take early morning prayer seriously? Why pray early in the morning? The world is full of distractions. Satan has legions of angels dedicated to confusing us. Those evil angels are less effective in the early morning before distractions overwhelm us.

Prayer should be 90% listening. We listen much better when there are no distractions. What better time than the morning? All of this should be common sense, but how many of us give it the proper consideration it deserves?

What are ways we can seek God? I only know a few of them, and God uses them in different combinations. Prayer, an almost audible voice from God, is one way God communicates with us in our thoughts. Some people don’t trust what they hear from God, and that is the most difficult method to explain to people, especially people who never heard God’s voice.

The Bible is another method God uses to communicate with us. Not the, I had a question and opened a page at random method. God may answer questions like that, but that is the elementary level of communication at best, which most of the time is formulated on selfishness. On a more advanced level, God can and will provide answers, and like doubling those talents in the parable found in Matthew chapter 25, will provide written proof the Bible is inspired, and the Author is alive and well. Which method is better for proving God exists and involved in our lives, taking the word of a person, a whimsical flip of the pages revealing secrets of the universe, or showing the specific patterns God used to write every book in the Bible? I prefer the later.

Let’s test a Bible Study rule right here. A very important Bible Study rules tells us, God always answers questions in the previous story. It could be the previous parable, story, or in this case, chapter. We will turn the page back to the previous Psalm, and take a look at the last few verses to see what they tell us about searching for God.

My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge. Common people are as worthless as a puff of wind, and the powerful are not what they appear to be. If you weigh them on the scales, together they are lighter than a breath of air. Don’t make your living by extortion or put your hope in stealing. And if your wealth increases, don’t make it the center of your life. God has spoken plainly, and I have heard it many times: Power, O God, belongs to you; unfailing love, O Lord, is yours. Surely you repay all people according to what they have done. (Psalms 62:7-12 NLTse).

We see the link between the two chapters when we see words and phrases related to communication with God in both chapters. That is a safety feature God installed in scripture. Another safety feature God installed is the use of contrasts. People love to tear apart scripture, making personal messages completely unrelated to the subject at hand. Some times people take what was meant to be a contrast in scripture, and make a doctrine out of it, or use it as a weapon, just what the story warns about. People cannot see them as contrasts because God’s glory is not their motivation. Only people who study scripture with an open mind and open heart, eager to learn can see and understand contrasts.

In this example, we’re shown a set of contrasts all related to seeking God. On the positive side, trust, pouring our hearts out to God, looking to God for protection, and listing to God are ways to seek Him. On the other hand, man made power, wisdom, self reliance, crime, and wealth are all distractions leading people away from God. Most of the advise David recorded is common sense. Having the ability and time to examine those contrasts is another step to seeking God.

God has a habit of verifying messages. God has people all over the world who know how to listen to Him and deliver messages. We need faithful friends of God, so when we need verification, God has someone to send.

Dreams and visions are other forms of communication God uses. Not many people have dreams and visions, but they are mentioned in the Bible. How to interpret dreams is explained in the Bible in books such as Daniel. Daniel’s book explained just about every form of communication God uses. Which I look at as another safety feature God placed in scripture. A lot of people claim to have the ability to interpret prophecies in Daniel. I’ve heard some of the strangest interpretations to more than a few verses in Daniel. But how did they get those interpretations? Since they are reading the book, and know how to interpret scripture, they should know all the forms of communication God uses. Which way did God communicate with them? Daniel made it clear, only God interprets dreams. Daniel had to pray and wait for explanations to some of the visions he received. Daniel told us exactly how God provided the answers. If Daniel had to follow those rules, what makes modern day prophets more important than Daniel? Why would God treat modern day prophets differently than Daniel? Why are modern day prophets allowed to skip steps Daniel had to follow? Daniel had to wait for God to send messengers from Heaven. Daniel had to listen to those messengers explain each and every symbol. Daniel had to record the exact method God used to communicate with him as well as the message, and the meaning of the symbols Daniel was allowed to see and reveal. Do modern day prophets follow any of the rules Daniel had to follow? The answer is no. Modern day prophets make up their own rules, their own forms of communication, and yes, their own private interpretations to symbols and prophecies. It should be easy for people to see through false prophets, but today, I saw one ad on the Internet claiming a particular church has a following of over 145,000,000 who believe that church received some divine revelation about some new doctrine that is not in the Bible, but was withheld for a time, and given to that organization to prove they are the only church that will be saved in the last days. In other words, you have to become a member of their church before your ticket to Heaven is validated. It seems there are a lot of people who believe some men can add anything they want to scripture, and Jesus passed the gift of His sacrifice off to one particular man made organization. When I read the Bible, it showed me how one man made religion decided to put Jesus on a cross. Today we have new man made organizations claiming, Jesus can’t save this world without their help. When I examine their material, they don’t follow any of the rules Daniel had to follow, record, and establish as a safety net for all of us. I guess the plan of those super churches is, eliminate the safety features from scripture, and they can teach just about anything. That process seems to work well in this world. People want to find someone to believe in. A real flesh and blood person or committee is a lot easier to believe in than a God who says we are supposed to rely in faith.

Learning about and practicing the ways God communicates with us is searching for God. Are there other ways? There may be. If there are other ways, people should be able to explain the step by step process.

David made it rather clear, we are searching for God in a world that all but rejects God. David used the symbol of a parched and weary land where there is no water. Jesus used water as a symbol of Himself and the knowledge He brought this world. The Old Testament used water to teach lessons in a number of stories. The word water opens doors to engage in studies on deeper levels.

David tells us he saw God inside His Sanctuary, but David didn’t explain how he got there, or what he saw there. This is a common theme throughout the Bible. Many authors explained visions in detail. For the most part, prophets used symbols to tell about events taking place on earth at one time or another. But why are there no clear explanations about what anyone saw in Heaven? There are some we will cover later in this book. Now we will take a look at some possible symbols David may have used here.

Since prophets normally use symbolism to communicate, maybe we need to hone our understanding of symbols to understand those messages. In this case we are dealing with a search. Symbols may be a part of that search.

We should easily identify parched land with no water as symbol. Is love a symbol? Since we as humans have little understanding about God’s love, it qualifies as a symbol, something we need to research and have the Bible define. This opened the door to another study.

We have little understanding of God’s power and glory. Are those additional symbols? Once again, we have another set of subjects to study. What about praise and prayer? Are any of us experts on those subjects, or do they also require additional study?

What do those symbols have in common, and how do they relate to a search for God? When we compare a relationship with God to those subjects, we learn a lot about God. In fact we learned one thing here, David gave a number of examples for us to study in our search for God’s Sanctuary.

David also told us another way to search for God, lie awake at night and meditate on God. Eastern religions have given medication a black eye, and many people will immediately condemn any type of meditation on God. Even though David wrote about it.

Once again, we should look at the original Hebrew word David recorded for the two related words, thinking and meditating.

Thinking or Remember

H2142 זָכַר zâkar zaw-kar’

A primitive root; properly to mark (so as to be recognized), that is, to remember; by implication to mention; also (as denominative from H2145) to be male: – X burn [incense], X earnestly, be male, (make) mention (of), be mindful, recount, record (-er), remember, make to be remembered, bring (call, come, keep, put) to (in) remembrance, X still, think on, X well.

Remember may be a better transaction for that Hebrew word. We also learn another Bible Study rule here. Look for key words the author repeated. Key words are words that are the same, similar, and related. In this case, thinking and meditating are similar words. Authors repeated key words to draw our attention to spiritual details as well as the main thought in the story.


H1897 הָגָה hâgâh haw-gaw’

A primitive root (compare H1901); to murmur (in pleasure or anger); by implication to ponder: – imagine, meditate, mourn, mutter, roar, X sore, speak, study, talk, utter.

Meditation works two ways, to think, and verbal communication. We see how those words are related, and when combined, bring out a much deeper meaning.

David closes this prayer with a short summary about relying on God, how God will protect us from our enemies, eventually deal with our enemies, and how we need to praise God for the protection He gives us. All of those are ways to search for God. No matter how God decides to speak to us, we should be ready to listen. Being in God’s Sanctuary is beginning to appear as a symbol that refers to knowing how to listen to God, and the many ways God proves His presence, and help in our lives

Posted in Advanced Studies, Bible Study Aids, Christian Books, Praising God, Simple Studies, Tabernacle, Visions of Heaven | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

I Love You Psalms 18 Visions of Heaven

Posted by Ez1 Realty on December 16, 2017

Psalms 18:1-31 NLTse I love you, LORD; you are my strength. (2) The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. (3) I called on the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and he saved me from my enemies. (4) The ropes of death entangled me; floods of destruction swept over me. (5) The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death laid a trap in my path. (6) But in my distress I cried out to the LORD; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears. (7) Then the earth quaked and trembled. The foundations of the mountains shook; they quaked because of his anger. (8) Smoke poured from his nostrils; fierce flames leaped from his mouth. Glowing coals blazed forth from him. (9) He opened the heavens and came down; dark storm clouds were beneath his feet. (10) Mounted on a mighty angelic being, he flew, soaring on the wings of the wind. (11) He shrouded himself in darkness, veiling his approach with dark rain clouds. (12) Thick clouds shielded the brightness around him and rained down hail and burning coals. (13) The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded amid the hail and burning coals. (14) He shot his arrows and scattered his enemies; his lightning flashed, and they were greatly confused. (15) Then at your command, O LORD, at the blast of your breath, the bottom of the sea could be seen, and the foundations of the earth were laid bare. (16) He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters. (17) He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me. (18) They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress, but the LORD supported me. (19) He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me. (20) The LORD rewarded me for doing right; he restored me because of my innocence. (21) For I have kept the ways of the LORD; I have not turned from my God to follow evil. (22) I have followed all his regulations; I have never abandoned his decrees. (23) I am blameless before God; I have kept myself from sin. (24) The LORD rewarded me for doing right. He has seen my innocence. (25) To the faithful you show yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity. (26) To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the wicked you show yourself hostile. (27) You rescue the humble, but you humiliate the proud. (28) You light a lamp for me. The LORD, my God, lights up my darkness. (29) In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall. (30) God’s way is perfect. All the LORD’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. (31) For who is God except the LORD? Who but our God is a solid rock?

The introduction of this Psalm centers on the key word fortress, and the related words, safety and protection. As usual, the introduction sets the main theme for the entire chapter, or in this case Psalm.

David began his prayer with love, which is a common greeting in particular letters. David was not afraid to show his love for God. He also wasn’t afraid to show his love for Jonathan when they were friends. David was one of the rare people who are not afraid of commitment. What is the connection David had, or is trying to show between love and a fortress?

Twice David used the word rock in the introduction. David associated the word rock with strength and his Savior. By the word Savior, we see the simple association with Christ. But David was only the first in his bloodline on the throne that led to Christ. It was generations before this world would begin to open their eyes to the true Messiah. By that we can see David was in a prophetic state when he wrote this prayer.

When we look at the physical attributes of a rock in relationship to a fortress, what do we see? Is a single rock a fortress? Not unless it is a very large rock towering above the earth. In David’s time they used large quantities of rocks to build houses, palaces, walls, and fortresses. People had to figure out ways to transport heavy boulders and lift them into place. In most cases they had to mix up a compound to hold the rocks together. Other times people had to work for days to cut rocks into square or rectangular shapes to fit together. They still had the same problems of moving and lifting those rocks into position. In either case the process took a great deal of human work, ingenuity, and effort. Was that what David was writing about? If we only read the first few sentences, we could walk away with any number of ideas of what David was trying to teach. If we relied on only a few words from this prayer, we could miss the entire point David was trying to make with God.

As we progress through David’s prayer, we see an explanation of his troubles that sounds a lot like the problem Jonah faced. Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from inside the fish. He said, “I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and LORD, you heard me! You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea. The mighty waters engulfed me; I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves. Then I said, ‘O LORD, you have driven me from your presence. Yet I will look once more toward your holy Temple.’ “I sank beneath the waves, and the waters closed over me. Seaweed wrapped itself around my head. I sank down to the very roots of the mountains. I was imprisoned in the earth, whose gates lock shut forever. But you, O LORD my God, snatched me from the jaws of death! As my life was slipping away, I remembered the LORD. And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple. (Jonah 2:1-7 NLTse).

It shouldn’t seem strange to us, both men turned to God’s Sanctuary when they really needed help. There was no doubt, Jonah was a prophet. Not many people consider David a prophet, but he did write some of the most important prophecies about Christ. Was that the Rock and Fortress David was talking about?

Jonah’s prayer was actually a prophecy pointing to Jesus’ three days in the tomb. Jesus pointed out that fact. We couldn’t ask for better confirmation. That prophecy goes so deep, it actually explains the three physical days Christ spent in the tomb. Jonah wasn’t dead when he was inside that fish. He was praying. That tells us to look at when Jesus prayed, which takes us to a particular in time when the established religion convicted and condemned Christ. They passed sentence on Jesus. That was the beginning of the spiritual grave for Jesus. As soon as they arrested Jesus, He was as good as dead. Jesus was in a spiritual grave praying to His Father.

Jonah shows us how to open our minds to the unexpected. To put aside preconceived ideas we’ve been taught, and place ourselves at the foot of the throne of the Infinite one. David termed that position as the ultimate place of security.

When we look at how David described God’s reaction, we can see a new image of the Rock and Fortress David was explaining. David describes an earthquake, smoke and fire coming up, wind, clouds, and thunder. Man has no control over any of those. Man cannot create nor control any of them. That explains a lot of what we are supposed to understand about the Rock and Fortress. Man has no part in creating nor controlling the Heavenly Sanctuary, or what is happening inside of it. Now comes the question of how we enter the Heavenly Sanctuary and God’s presence.

In David’s prayer, or can we call it a prophecy, God appeared to this world, but was shrouded in darkness. Some people may try to explain that in human terms by saying something like, “we would vaporize in God’s presence.” If that were true, then why was Moses shown the actual Heavenly Sanctuary, and John was shown scenes of that same Sanctuary? Either one or the other is true. Can people exist in God’s presence, or will they meet with instant death? I suppose that answer is summed up on your view of God and understanding of the fear of God.

David made it a point to tell us, God will announce His presence in a way there will be no doubt, He is on His way. Some people will try to explain away that announcement in simple human terms. Those explanations will be designed to block the sight of God from many people. David also described the seas and earth opening. God does not forget. He knows where everyone is, both good and evil. Some will undoubtedly hide from God, or try to hide. John tells us, people will cry for the rocks and mountains to cover them. Looking at that in spiritual terms, David told us about one Rock to look to. What are the rocks people call out to in Revelation?

I watched as the Lamb broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake. The sun became as dark as black cloth, and the moon became as red as blood. Then the stars of the sky fell to the earth like green figs falling from a tree shaken by a strong wind. The sky was rolled up like a scroll, and all of the mountains and islands were moved from their places. Then everyone–the kings of the earth, the rulers, the generals, the wealthy, the powerful, and every slave and free person–all hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. And they cried to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to survive?” (Revelation 6:12-17 NLTse).

Was David writing about the same event, or just providing a prelude with more information to follow? David’s prayer tends to send us to a number of related stories in scripture. A wise student will consider all the facts, compare details to other sections of scripture, look at how key words link those stories, and of course, weigh the context of each story, which includes the events and timing.

In essence, this prayer teaches us how to study scripture. Isn’t God’s Word a building block in His Fortress? Now we can see why David used examples showing man has no creative capabilities nor control over God, what He wants to do, or how He chooses to protect His people.

David used a simple sequence to teach a lesson. It all began with love and grew from there. David described the Fortress and his trust in God before telling about his problem. God’s method of dealing with those problems explained the protection God offers. After that is understood, David is rescued. David showed us a process God follows. Love, faith, protection, power, and finally, a rescue from this world, and a reward.

David is presenting a view of God in His Sanctuary in a type of encrypted form. When Jesus returns, everyone will hear it. There will be no doubts, everyone will hear the message of His coming one way or another. For some that message will come too late. Their view of God will be clouded. That will not stop them from hearing the message. Listening to and accepting the message is another matter.

David is using simple symbols to explain an event, and his relationship with God. Rock and fortress are a few. Storms, wind, lightening, and thunder are others. David is showing, there are different views of God. There will also be different views of the Sanctuary. For some people it will be a place of safety. Other people it will be a fearful place. What makes the difference? David hit the nail on the head in his first sentence, love for God.

Some people meet God and learn about that one true love from Heaven. Other people are stuck on this world and its interpretations of scripture and love. With a confused sense of love, people fight with and against God’s Spirit, much like Jacob had to experience, before his eyes were opened. Jacob was facing his own problems at that time. That makes me wonder what David was experiencing when he wrote all those Psalms. It seems rather bizarre when you think about it. Somehow God was able to coordinate David’s troubles with some of the most important and in depth prophecies about Jesus. When I think about that, it makes me want to approach God’s throne and ask Him to share details on the subject.

Let’s examine David’s prayer here in Psalm 18 for a moment. David loved God and began his prayer by expressing his love for God. Wouldn’t it make sense for us to do the same thing, state we know God is listening to us, and has been watching over us, and tell God how much we appreciate the attention we receive. All we are doing is returning that attention. When we pray about what we read in the Bible, we are asking God about what He saw and did that day. Isn’t that one of the basic expressions of love?

When we examine what David wrote, we know it is a message from God. By God, I normally imagine it is Jesus’ throne I am approaching, sitting in front of, and it is Jesus I am listening to. Especially when the symbol Rock is used. Jesus was that Rock that followed Moses and the others in the wilderness. Jesus was here at creation and created everything, including the materials involved in His trials, crucifixion, and the tomb He laid in. The point is, we receive a reliable eye witness account of the event when we approach Jesus’ throne for information.

David received some rather detailed information about Jesus’ death and recorded it. Think of the awesome responsibility David had at that moment. That tells us a lot about prayer, and communication with Jesus. We have to learn to pay attention. At that moment, David had to place all his problems aside and listen to something more important. Isn’t that an important part of prayer? Isn’t that a part of prayer we often place to the side, or forget about? In essence, David not only talked about his love for Jesus, he expressed his love for Jesus when he placed Jesus’ concerns in front of his own problems. After all, David also recorded details about Jesus’ powers, and reliability.

Often prayer can result in a prophetic type of vision, not with exact details, but pertinent information, or a message to help someone. That type of information comes unexpectedly. We have no idea about problems people face. Often times we are given messages for people we don’t even know, people we have never met. Isn’t the Bible filled with stories like that? It’s time to pay attention to those types of details so we can be effective ambassadors for Jesus.

That is why it is so important to pay attention when we are in prayer, and in the presence of Jesus. We are not there to pour out our guts and walk away thinking Jesus will put us in the front of the service line, and solve all our problems. David had problems, and what did Jesus do? Jesus told David about the problems He was going to face. Isn’t that a basic definition and example of two way communication?

Let’s take a look at why the Bible contains so many stories with kings as the main characters. There are four books in the Old Testament dedicated the the lives of kings. Pagan kings are also mentioned in the Old Testament as well as the new. Apostles were brought before kings and we were given those stories about how the apostles tried to reach those kings for a reason.

Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.” (Exodus 19:5-6 NLTse)

This letter is from John to the seven churches in the province of Asia. Grace and peace to you from the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come; from the sevenfold Spirit before his throne; and from Jesus Christ. He is the faithful witness to these things, the first to rise from the dead, and the ruler of all the kings of the world. All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen. Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him– even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes! Amen! (Revelation 1:4-7 NLTse)

The only difference between the promise in the Old Testament and the New is, in the Old Testament, Israel would be a kingdom of priests. In the New Testament, Christians have been made a kingdom of priests to serve God the Father.

Let’s take a look at David’s role as king to see if we can figure out why the symbol of a king was used in so many stories. What was David’s role as king? For that matter, what is the role of any king in the Bible, or in this world?

A king basically runs the country. In simple terms the Bible described how the king set the tone for the way people worshiped, who the people worshiped, and how far the people got into worship. Stories in scripture repeat the same theme for both God and idols. Some kings portrayed a light form of worship towards God. Some kings preferred to communicate with God through prophets, while other kings like David had a close one on one relationship with God. The same is true with pagan kings. Some sought the advice of pagan priests while others took control of the sacrificial system, which went as far as sacrificing children to their idols. No matter which why the king went, the majority of the country seemed to follow.

Kings watch over the country. Some of the stories in scripture tell us a few details about the army, how kings built walls, towers, and weapons, and of course, led the army at times. Kings also established and oversaw the judicial system. Some kings sat as judges over important court cases. In a few stories we’ve seen how kings looked over the poor in their kingdom.

Kings also made decisions on taxes, raising funds to finance the army and other branches of service including the priesthood. It became customary for kings to appoint priests and other branches of religious service. In short, kings had a deep influence over their kingdoms, and a lot of responsibility. Countries followed the ways of the kings. Good kings turned their nations to God. Evil kings turned people away from God. All of those to varying degrees.

Now that we are a kingdom of priests, we have the same responsibilities as both kings and priests. Often we feel like we have little influence over people. Is that a fact, or an excuse to sit on our hands and do nothing?

Look at the influence David had before Israel recognized him as king? Hundreds and maybe thousands of people followed David. A few hundred were brave enough to take up arms and follow David. That included moving their families and giving up the land God granted them. It was a major sacrifice to follow David before he was officially crowned king by the people. But we do have a series of stories showing how God protected David. Many people believe this prayer was written when David was hiding from Saul.

David played the part of a king long before anyone placed a physical crown on his head. David protected his father’s sheep from lions and bears. David protected Israel from a giant and the army that stood behind Goliath. David protected and provided for a number of warriors and their families when Saul sought his life. All those were learning experiences for David. Attributes of a king that were supposed to be handed down from generation to generation.

The lessons David learned were supposed to be spread further than the immediate family. David was responsible for teaching a nation what it takes to be an effective king anointed by God. That was the original promise given through Moses. Nothing changed between Moses and John the Revelator. The only difference is, the level at which people accepted the responsibilities God gave them, learned, and taught the lessons they learned in life continually dropped off. Those qualities were replaced by worldly values.

As Christians, we open our lives to God. He takes a look at us, sees necessary changes, a little tweaking here and there, a major overhaul there, bits and pieces that need to be trimmed, and a whole lot of upgrades that need to be installed. Each of us has to undergo an educational process to become the kingdom of priests God needs in this world. Now let me ask you a question. What does your prayer life have to do with that process? What do you plan on gaining when your prayer life is little more than an outpouring of a selfish heart asking God to fix the problems in your life when God placed them there for a reason?

David had to learn to communicate with God to become an effective leader. It all began with a set of stones that God spoke through. So Saul mobilized his entire army to march to Keilah and besiege David and his men. But David learned of Saul’s plan and told Abiathar the priest to bring the ephod and ask the LORD what he should do. (1 Samuel 23:8-9 NLTse). David had to learn to ask one question at a time to receive a yes or no answer. Notice how those early questions centered around David and the people he was protecting.

As David’s relationship with God grew, so did his communication skills. David had to be reeducated for years before he was qualified to lead the nation. Those are details we’re supposed to be paying attention to, and learning from. How do we develop an effective prayer life with God?

David saw and lived through a series of events showing God’s power. David also named a number of examples of God’s power he never saw. Somehow David knew or found out about those powers. Was it David’s imagination, or did God tell David about those powers?

From the worldly aspect, people like to think there is a connection between God’s Word and human thought. The fact is, David was a prophet, a person God freely communicated with, gave messages to, and trusted to record those messages. You have to decide if you’re going to look at those messages as random human thoughts, or images, signs, and symbols sent from God’s throne.

David of course recorded the connection between God’s protection and his dedication to God’s laws. A touchy subject for some people. Who did God want leading his nation in Israel, a man following and teaching God’s laws, or a man who easily compromises with the world? What makes a real king, a person who knows right from wrong and works hard to remain on the right course, or a person swayed to the left or right, always looking for an easy solution?

The life and role of a real leader is never easy. People target kings for favors, try to get kings to change laws in their favor, work out less than ethical deals, and of course there are those bribes and promises of riches and success. The devil tried the same temptation on Jesus. In a heartbeat Jesus could have chosen the easy way out by serving the devil. But Jesus knew, that would have been a temporary solution at best. It would have been a solution that served Jesus’ personal needs at the time, but did little good to serve the spiritual needs of this world. Jesus had no choice but to follow God’s law to the letter. Did David have any other choice?

What God Did for David

Psalms 18:32-50 NLTse God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect. (33) He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. (34) He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. (35) You have given me your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me; your help has made me great. (36) You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping. (37) I chased my enemies and caught them; I did not stop until they were conquered. (38) I struck them down so they could not get up; they fell beneath my feet. (39) You have armed me with strength for the battle; you have subdued my enemies under my feet. (40) You placed my foot on their necks. I have destroyed all who hated me. (41) They called for help, but no one came to their rescue. They even cried to the LORD, but he refused to answer. (42) I ground them as fine as dust in the wind. I swept them into the gutter like dirt. (43) You gave me victory over my accusers. You appointed me ruler over nations; people I don’t even know now serve me. (44) As soon as they hear of me, they submit; foreign nations cringe before me. (45) They all lose their courage and come trembling from their strongholds. (46) The LORD lives! Praise to my Rock! May the God of my salvation be exalted! (47) He is the God who pays back those who harm me; he subdues the nations under me (48) and rescues me from my enemies. You hold me safe beyond the reach of my enemies; you save me from violent opponents. (49) For this, O LORD, I will praise you among the nations; I will sing praises to your name. (50) You give great victories to your king; you show unfailing love to your anointed, to David and all his descendants forever.

David used a series of symbols to explain how God answered his prayer and what God did for him. When we look at that short list, we see how God worked with David. God gave David strength, made his ways perfect, gave David sure footing, which shows, David did not stand still, but advanced uphill in the battle of life. God trained David’s hands for battle and showed David how to use weapons. All of that showed illustrations of God working with David. Training requires a great deal of communication. David gave us an example of communication with God resulting in performing work for God. God supplied the strength, knowledge, training, and the weapons themselves. The combination resulted in victories for David.

David also pointed out, other people call on God. Other people know God exists. Only a few know how God provides strength, training, and the proper tools leading to success. The main difference is, victories belong to the LORD and are for His glory. The question is, how to we get ourselves in the position David got to? How do we approach God’s throne like David did? We have to acknowledge the awesome responsibilities God offers. We have to know those responsibilities are not given to just anyone. We have to learn to follow more than the earthly concept of God’s laws. Like David explained, we have to be in God’s presence to see His awesome power. We also have to be in God’s direct presence to learn the meaning behind His laws. Are you ready to approach God’s throne?

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Priests Distributed Offerings

Posted by Ez1 Realty on December 9, 2017

2 Chronicles 31:7-18 NLTse (7) They began piling them up in late spring, and the heaps continued to grow until early autumn. (8) When Hezekiah and his officials came and saw these huge piles, they thanked the LORD and his people Israel! (9) “Where did all this come from?” Hezekiah asked the priests and Levites. (10) And Azariah the high priest, from the family of Zadok, replied, “Since the people began bringing their gifts to the LORD’s Temple, we have had enough to eat and plenty to spare. The LORD has blessed his people, and all this is left over.” (11) Hezekiah ordered that storerooms be prepared in the Temple of the LORD. When this was done, (12) the people faithfully brought all the tithes and gifts to the Temple. Conaniah the Levite was put in charge, assisted by his brother Shimei. (13) The supervisors under them were Jehiel, Azaziah, Nahath, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismakiah, Mahath, and Benaiah. These appointments were made by King Hezekiah and Azariah, the chief official in the Temple of God. (14) Kore son of Imnah the Levite, who was the gatekeeper at the East Gate, was put in charge of distributing the voluntary offerings given to God, the gifts, and the things that had been dedicated to the LORD. (15) His faithful assistants were Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah. They distributed the gifts among the families of priests in their towns by their divisions, dividing the gifts fairly among old and young alike. (16) They distributed the gifts to all males three years old or older, regardless of their place in the genealogical records. The distribution went to all who would come to the LORD’s Temple to perform their daily duties according to their divisions. (17) They distributed gifts to the priests who were listed by their families in the genealogical records, and to the Levites twenty years old or older who were listed according to their jobs and their divisions. (18) Food allotments were also given to the families of all those listed in the genealogical records, including their little babies, wives, sons, and daughters. For they had all been faithful in purifying themselves.

This short story actually covers a number of themes Moses wrote about. We can look at references to Levitical genealogy. That would show how records were maintained, and God placed Levites in particular roles based on the family they came from. Then we could look at the offerings and gifts, which are divided into two categories. One deals with offerings brought to the priests, another tells us about a tithing system.

When you arrive, you may use the money to buy any kind of food you want–cattle, sheep, goats, wine, or other alcoholic drink. Then feast there in the presence of the LORD your God and celebrate with your household. And do not neglect the Levites in your town, for they will receive no allotment of land among you. “At the end of every third year, bring the entire tithe of that year’s harvest and store it in the nearest town. Give it to the Levites, who will receive no allotment of land among you, as well as to the foreigners living among you, the orphans, and the widows in your towns, so they can eat and be satisfied. Then the LORD your God will bless you in all your work. (Deuteronomy 14:26-29 NLTse).

No one will argue the point, it is a good thing to support the priests. The Levites were included in that category for good reason, they didn’t receive any land. Since they didn’t own any land per say, they had limited means to earn a living. When those laws were given, each Levite of a certain age was assigned a task involving either the maintenance or transportation of the Tabernacle. Once the temple was build, new roles were assigned. The original roles were assigned by God. David assigned new roles before the temple was constructed. Those roles were changed by Solomon after the temple was built, and other kings after the temple was reclaimed and cleansed.

Additional groups were added to the original list. At the end of every third year a tithe was collected which was stored in the nearest town, then distributed to the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows. Hezekiah distributed the tithe to the Levites, but nothing was mentioned about the foreigners, orphans, or widows. Later Moses explained more about the system.

“Every third year you must offer a special tithe of your crops. In this year of the special tithe you must give your tithes to the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows, so that they will have enough to eat in your towns. Then you must declare in the presence of the LORD your God, ‘I have taken the sacred gift from my house and have given it to the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows, just as you commanded me. I have not violated or forgotten any of your commands. I have not eaten any of it while in mourning; I have not handled it while I was ceremonially unclean; and I have not offered any of it to the dead. I have obeyed the LORD my God and have done everything you commanded me. Now look down from your holy dwelling place in heaven and bless your people Israel and the land you swore to our ancestors to give us–a land flowing with milk and honey.’ “Today the LORD your God has commanded you to obey all these decrees and regulations. So be careful to obey them wholeheartedly. You have declared today that the LORD is your God. And you have promised to walk in his ways, and to obey his decrees, commands, and regulations, and to do everything he tells you. The LORD has declared today that you are his people, his own special treasure, just as he promised, and that you must obey all his commands. And if you do, he will set you high above all the other nations he has made. Then you will receive praise, honor, and renown. You will be a nation that is holy to the LORD your God, just as he promised.”

(Deuteronomy 26:12-19 NLTse)

This special tithe was linked to a number of details, keeping God’s law seems to be the most important. Is there a link between seeing to the needs of under privileged people and keeping God’s laws? Like many things in the Bible, it may seem easy to explain, but try to back it up with scripture. My first attempt at trying to back up the fact, we are supposed to look after widows, orphans, and foreigners was to search the word widow in the Gospels. That didn’t turn up much. Jesus helped a few widows, but didn’t make a new doctrine out of it, or point out it was part of any comment. A search of the word orphan turned up even less.

I would have thought Jesus said something about widows and orphans. The Old Testament seems to mention their care a number of times. But maybe that is the point. Priests were supposed to set examples for people to follow. If they looked after widows and orphans, people would learn valuable lessons from them.

There were of course one set of laws for a portion of burnt offerings God shared with the priests, and other offerings meant to be shared with the Levites. The laws are scattered throughout the books Moses recorded and are not easy to put together without reading every requirement. A few examples provide a rather consistent bearing on the subject.

Give the right thigh of your peace offering to the priest as a gift. The right thigh must always be given to the priest who offers the blood and the fat of the peace offering. For I have reserved the breast of the special offering and the right thigh of the sacred offering for the priests. It is the permanent right of Aaron and his descendants to share in the peace offerings brought by the people of Israel. This is their rightful share. The special gifts presented to the LORD have been reserved for Aaron and his descendants from the time they were set apart to serve the LORD as priests. On the day they were anointed, the LORD commanded the Israelites to give these portions to the priests as their permanent share from generation to generation.” (Leviticus 7:32-36 NLTse).

Basically, animal and grain offerings brought to the priests and meant to be placed on the altar were shared with the priests. They were called sacred offerings. Other offerings like the first fruits were shared with other Levites, as well as widows, orphans, and foreigners living in Israel. It sounds like a complicated system, does require a certain amount of reading, and can be confusing. Then there were other laws for other situations.

“The priests must follow my instructions carefully. Otherwise they will be punished for their sin and will die for violating my instructions. I am the LORD who makes them holy. “No one outside a priest’s family may eat the sacred offerings. Even guests and hired workers in a priest’s home are not allowed to eat them. However, if the priest buys a slave for himself, the slave may eat from the sacred offerings. And if his slaves have children, they also may share his food. If a priest’s daughter marries someone outside the priestly family, she may no longer eat the sacred offerings. But if she becomes a widow or is divorced and has no children to support her, and she returns to live in her father’s home as in her youth, she may eat her father’s food again. Otherwise, no one outside a priest’s family may eat the sacred offerings. “Any such person who eats the sacred offerings without realizing it must pay the priest for the amount eaten, plus an additional 20 percent. The priests must not let the Israelites defile the sacred offerings brought to the LORD by allowing unauthorized people to eat them. This would bring guilt upon them and require them to pay compensation. I am the LORD who makes them holy.” (Leviticus 22:9-16 NLTse).

Laws concerning the sacrificial offering seemed rather rigid. There were exceptions to those laws, but Moses seems to have covered the bases. On the other hand, laws covering the tithe seem rather open.

Always remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God redeemed you from your slavery. That is why I have given you this command. “When you are harvesting your crops and forget to bring in a bundle of grain from your field, don’t go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. Then the LORD your God will bless you in all you do. When you beat the olives from your olive trees, don’t go over the boughs twice. Leave the remaining olives for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. When you gather the grapes in your vineyard, don’t glean the vines after they are picked. Leave the remaining grapes for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. Remember that you were slaves in the land of Egypt. That is why I am giving you this command. (Deuteronomy 24:18-22 NLTse).

In addition to the tithe offering, land owners were supposed to be aware of needs people around them had. If they made a mistake, or fruit decided to remain on branches, it was left for people in need. Another simple system that served as a reminder to help people in need. God also used festivals to remind Israel to care for people in need. As with the other commands to give, or leave food for people, the giver was always blessed by God. There was always a promise attached.

We have to consider that blessing. Was it strictly physical, spiritual, or was it a combination of the two? Have you ever been a giver, or knew people who gave more than their share? Have you ever seen anyone blessed by giving? Was it more of a physical, emotional, or spiritual blessing?

Everything in these stories tends to bend towards a personal view, as well as a personal blessing. Other than the usual grains and fruits, not much else is mentioned in the commands. Are they commands from God, or strong suggestions? Let’s look at the blessings and curses from a stand point of choice.

When people give, they have less of a tendency to over exert themselves to get ahead, break even, or seek revenge. In many ways, they take life easier, have less worries, and tend to waste less time. They seem to have more time for what we refer to as the simple things in life.

On the other hand, people who find it difficult to give tend to worry more, think people are out to get them, waste time on suspicions, looking over their shoulders, and never seem to be satisfied with what they have. In other words, they never stop to consider how poor and neglected people live. That’s why God told them to remember, they came from a life of slavery. In other words, treat people the way you want to be treated. And don’t treat people the way you hated being treated.

Then celebrate the Festival of Harvest to honor the LORD your God. Bring him a voluntary offering in proportion to the blessings you have received from him. This is a time to celebrate before the LORD your God at the designated place of worship he will choose for his name to be honored. Celebrate with your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, the Levites from your towns, and the foreigners, orphans, and widows who live among you. Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt, so be careful to obey all these decrees. “You must observe the Festival of Shelters for seven days at the end of the harvest season, after the grain has been threshed and the grapes have been pressed. This festival will be a happy time of celebrating with your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows from your towns. For seven days you must celebrate this festival to honor the LORD your God at the place he chooses, for it is he who blesses you with bountiful harvests and gives you success in all your work. This festival will be a time of great joy for all. (Deuteronomy 16:10-15 NLTse).

Widows and orphans were not left out of those celebrations. Israel had to include everyone in those festivals. There was no such thing as being too poor to attend those festivals. God had a good spiritual reason to place everyone on the same level. Many of those festivals focused on a time we are going to leave this world. When we see Jesus, we are not going to have any rank or social standing. We can throw titles out the window. There will be no rich or poor. No middle classes either. Those festivals taught a number of important spiritual lessons.

This story tells us how Hezekiah put his best foot forward, and God blessed him. Did Hezekiah do everything right? Some people could look at this story and make a list of mistakes Hezekiah made. Then wonder how God blessed him. But let’s look back at what we reviewed and see if we can find a spiritual message.

People are supposed to help the priests, Levites, foreigners, widows, and orphans. If priests and Levites are supposed to be a good example, who is their example to learn from? Some may say, Moses, others may say, God. If God is supposed to be their example showing how to treat people, wouldn’t God be setting the ultimate example of giving? Wouldn’t forgiving and over looking faults be part of those lessons? After all, isn’t that what Jesus did?

The real question is, how do we apply this story to modern Christianity? That should be a simple answer. But is it? Look at how God scattered answers to the simple question He posed in this story. All we had to do was look up a few examples about sacrificial offerings, how part of those offerings were shared with Aaron and his sons, and a few extra text on tithe. That turned out to be a chore. A law was introduced, later explained, and more added at a later date on both subjects. What do we gather from that? God had to teach Israel how to give like they were children. We can look at them as slaves and claim, they had nothing to give. So treating them like children was the logical thing to do. What about us? What about the spiritual slavery we’re stuck in?

Based on what I’ve seen this week, and remember, God speaks to us through daily events. God places us in trials to teach us lessons, as well as deliver messages. Those messages are more than likely focused on us, as well as designed to share with other people who need the same message.

For some reason I’ve run into a few people I just met and they had one thing in common. They all thought they had all the right answers, and the world had to change to meet their qualifications. They were convinced they knew exactly what the future held. They also thought they knew everything about the Old Testament and New Testament. They thought they knew everything about what a priest or pastor should be, how they should act, and what they had to do. Put those two together and what do you have? A group of people sitting around doing little or nothing to prepare this world for what is about to happen, and convincing themselves, that is God’s plan. They think they are the chosen race, God’s children, and they already secured a one way ticket to paradise. But they can’t explain it. All they can do is deny there is something they missed.

I’m sitting here learning everything I can from God. Everyday I see a number of details I never saw before. What are they telling me? They are telling me, I’m wasting my time studying scripture. They’re telling me, I’m wasting my time receiving instructions from God. According to them, God has shared everything with them, and there is nothing more to learn. The work is complete, and it is time to punch the time card and go home.

I’ve been in that position before. The question came up, “how do you share the love of Christ.” That question was raised in a number of meetings, in a number of churches, in a number of states. Not one person has been able to answer that question. If you want to silence a room full of Christians, ask that question. “How do you share the love of Christ?” See what answers you receive. So you know what the problem is? People can’t teach what they don’t know.

A strange thing happened to me the first time I asked that question. That group of people wanted to avoid that question like the plague. That was a room full of people who could quote prophecy forwards and backwards. They could tell you all the names, dates, and events in prefect order. Well their perfect order. You know something about prophecy. It doesn’t matter if you show people a sequence in scripture, written out by God’s inspired author. If it doesn’t agree with the order they’ve been taught, they will not look at the recorded story. 100% of the time they will take the word of their human teachers over God’s written word. But just for the fun of it, ask them how they share Jesus’ love.

In that first group I asked that question, no one had an answer. They wanted to move on. They wanted to avoid the question. I kept pressing for an answer. Being a new Christian, I had to find the answer. Finally a blind man stood up and told those people to answer the question. But no one had an answer. Those were people I looked up to. I was convinced, they had all the answers. But obviously not that answer. I had to move on. I had to teach myself how to study on my own. I could no longer trust this world for the answers.

After reading the Gospels four times, then reading the entire Bible from cover to cover with my mind focused on that single subject, the answer became obvious. We share the love of Christ by doing the simple things in life. We help people where they are. It doesn’t matter if a woman has a dead battery in the parking lot, or help loading bags in the trunk of her car. Your neighbor may need someone to watch over the dog while they take a trip to attend a funeral. Your neighbor, or church members may not have enough to eat. They may need a lead on that job opening you heard about at work. Sharing Christ’s love doesn’t take an eye opening miracle. You don’t have to walk on water or raise the dead Sharing Jesus’ love is not a competition where you have to out perform everyone. It is so simple, most of the world misses it. So what? So people receive your gift, and don’t show a whole lot of appreciation. Jesus healed ten lepers and how many returned to say, “thanks?” We’re not in it for the recognition. We are in it because God said, that’s how we need to act. We’ll be blessed by our giving. Were any of those poor widows and orphans able to pay back any of those land owners in Israel? Or did any of those widows and orphans run into town to tell everyone how what handful of wheat saved them? Was that lesson so simple, we look at it and miss the entire meaning? Look at that scenario for a moment. God shows His love by teaching us a simple lesson. We miss the entire lesson, but we’re waiting for that once in a life time chance to do something really big to show God’s love. We missed a million opportunities to share God’s love, and we blame it on Him. How does that make God feel? All God asks is that we pay attention to details and needs around us. To share God’s love, the first thing we need to do is admit, we don’t have the answers. We are the poor in spirit We are the widows from a love grown dead and cold. We are the unloved orphans, because we forgot how to love.

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Israel Listened to God

Posted by Ez1 Realty on December 4, 2017

2 Chronicles 28:12-15 NLTse (12) Then some of the leaders of Israel–Azariah son of Jehohanan, Berekiah son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah son of Shallum, and Amasa son of Hadlai–agreed with this and confronted the men returning from battle. (13) “You must not bring the prisoners here!” they declared. “We cannot afford to add to our sins and guilt. Our guilt is already great, and the LORD’s fierce anger is already turned against Israel.” (14) So the warriors released the prisoners and handed over the plunder in the sight of the leaders and all the people. (15) Then the four men just mentioned by name came forward and distributed clothes from the plunder to the prisoners who were naked. They provided clothing and sandals to wear, gave them enough food and drink, and dressed their wounds with olive oil. They put those who were weak on donkeys and took all the prisoners back to their own people in Jericho, the city of palms. Then they returned to Samaria.

Israel may have been further away from God than we could imagine, but not to far away to remember some of those stories about Egypt. Those stories were retold for generations among all the nations in the area. After forty years of wandering in the wilderness, the people in Jericho heard those stories and shook in fear when Israel showed up on the other side of the Jordan River. Only a few people made it out of Jericho alive.

After a number of generations, those stories about Egypt still had their influence over people. Israel didn’t want to take any chances. After hearing a warning from one of God’s prophets, leaders in Israel decided to comply with God’s wishes. They dressed the prisoners from Judah, fed them, and sent them home. Israel complied with the physical aspects of the command. But did the spiritual aspects sink in? What about Judah? What did they learn from the experience?

Ahaz Rejected God

2 Chronicles 28:16-27 NLTse (16) At that time King Ahaz of Judah asked the king of Assyria for help. (17) The armies of Edom had again invaded Judah and taken captives. (18) And the Philistines had raided towns located in the foothills of Judah and in the Negev of Judah. They had already captured and occupied Beth-shemesh, Aijalon, Gederoth, Soco with its villages, Timnah with its villages, and Gimzo with its villages. (19) The LORD was humbling Judah because of King Ahaz of Judah, for he had encouraged his people to sin and had been utterly unfaithful to the LORD. (20) So when King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria arrived, he attacked Ahaz instead of helping him. (21) Ahaz took valuable items from the LORD’s Temple, the royal palace, and from the homes of his officials and gave them to the king of Assyria as tribute. But this did not help him. (22) Even during this time of trouble, King Ahaz continued to reject the LORD. (23) He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus who had defeated him, for he said, “Since these gods helped the kings of Aram, they will help me, too, if I sacrifice to them.” But instead, they led to his ruin and the ruin of all Judah. (24) The king took the various articles from the Temple of God and broke them into pieces. He shut the doors of the LORD’s Temple so that no one could worship there, and he set up altars to pagan gods in every corner of Jerusalem. (25) He made pagan shrines in all the towns of Judah for offering sacrifices to other gods. In this way, he aroused the anger of the LORD, the God of his ancestors. (26) The rest of the events of Ahaz’s reign and everything he did, from beginning to end, are recorded in The Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. (27) When Ahaz died, he was buried in Jerusalem but not in the royal cemetery of the kings of Judah. Then his son Hezekiah became the next king.

After God sent a prophet to remind you there is family to turn to, what would you do? Ahaz already accepted the pagan practices of Israel. They didn’t have any religious conflicts to separate them. But who did Ahaz turn to? Assyria, one of the origins of those pagan religions. Why was God trying to teach Ahaz a lesson? God was trying to turn Ahaz back. What did Ahaz do? He continued on his course away from God at full steam until he reached the point of no return.

All the gold in the temple, palace, and entire city of Jerusalem didn’t help Ahaz. What do most people do whenever they exhaust every effort to save themselves? They normally turn to God for help. But not Ahaz. Something from those pagan religions kept Ahaz away from God. Something effected his mind and better judgment. Ahaz went as far a shutting the temple doors. Ahaz had a huge chip on his shoulder that turned into a noose around his neck. No wonder God told His people to stay away from those pagan religions. There is something about those influences that may look like it is easy to control, but somehow numbs the senses. God didn’t even want to explain what that influence was. All God told people was to stay away.

We can take this information and try to apply it to the world we see today. What will we see? We’re not into the part of the Bible that explains how Jerusalem fell to Babylon, but what does Babylon stand for? In simple terms, confusion. It doesn’t matter which subject we try to apply that limited knowledge of paganism to, we will do nothing more than confuse the issue.

In the United States we are seeing social melt downs. Shortly after the 2016 election, we have a new president in the White House. The vote was so close, one candidate won the majority vote by a slim margin, while the other won the electoral vote. I’m not sure if that ever happened before, but it sure added to divisions I doubt anyone expected to see.

One part of the country is extremely loyal to the new president, while other factions hold a constant string of protests to voice their opinions. Most are peaceful, but some factions rely on disturbances ranging from blocking traffic to property destruction and looting. I have to point out, only about 1/3 of the registered voters actually turned out for the election. Two thirds of American voters decided to sit out that election. To many it was a choice between two evils.

There must have been a million reasons why 2/3 of Americans decided not to vote. The story boils down to the fact, only 1/3 voted, and that vote was almost evenly split. Among those two groups, you have another million or so attitudes and opinions on both sides of the vote.

What I have never seen in my almost sixty years is a total disrespect of the for the presidency from some factions supporting the other party that lost the election. In the past we have seen a certain amount of grumbling, but never to this extent.

Factions supporting the president seem to be broken down into two major groups. One is looking for a reduction in taxes. Which tends to remind us of the problems Rehoboam faced. The second major faction supporting the president tend to focus on patriotism. Those who favor the role of patriots are made up of a number of factions determined by personal experiences including family influences.

Americans have different views on patriotism based on certain influences. Some of the older generation have fathers who served during World War 2. That was a war the US won. Others are actual Vietnam veterans. A war for all intents and purposes the US was not able to finish. There are also Korean war veterans, and of course, Iraqi war veterans. The Iraqi war was a quick and decisive war, but questions linger on based on the fact, a lot of militant factions sprang up from that region of the world.

We can see how veterans supporting the president come with a host of views on patriotism. There are also non-veterans leaning in the patriotism platform. In all, no one can really count the number of influences involved on that side of the debate.

On the other side of the issues, the US has minority groups including race, gender, and sexual preference issues. Each of the factions opposing the president claim they are threatened or misunderstood to varying degrees. Some groups cannot figure out why a woman wasn’t elected president, and refuse to let the issue go. Some minorities claim they need a minority president, and there are a number of immigration issues to deal with. Some groups attempt to join forces, but seem to prefer focusing on their own issues. Some, like woman’s groups join recognized groups with attractive sounding names and hidden agendas. Special interest groups focused on sexual choices and abortion often attract women who are not certain what those groups stand for and want to accomplish. In all, each group inside of those groups has factions within factions. To say the least, people are divided beyond imagination.

About the only thing those groups opposing the president have in common is pent up anger, and maybe fear. The only thing they can agree on is, the present administration does not understand them. We would have to look back over dozens of branches to get to the core of the problems. That would only lead to the discovery of issues within issues, and divisions beyond number and the ability for any person or group to accurately analyze.

The only thing we can see for sure is, we cannot understand underlying social issues by viewing a single person or group. By the time Ahaz took the throne, Judah developed and practiced the concept of picking and choosing which of God’s laws to follow, and which no longer applied. That created separations within groups. Mix in a few degrees of pagan religions and we see a mixture not easily separated into its basic elements. We can look at a few basic ingredients, but that does not provide a full picture, or the proper knowledge for us to apply that wisdom to problems we see today.

Jerusalem’s fall was in fact a complicated issue when we look through the eyes of human understanding. That is simplified whenever we read scripture and use the Bible as a reliable source of information. We see the simplified explanation, people left God. They left God out of major decisions, minor decisions, religious matters, and their lives. Stories in the Bible showed how kings looked at issues, forgetting who really controls armies, nations, the elements, and everything that happens in this world. God may not exert total control over all those situations, but He does see and understand everything that happens. And God does see and understand all the underlying factors involved with each and every event. God knows exactly what led to those events, how people viewed what was happening, and how they reacted to each and every detail. God knows who consulted Him, and who didn’t. God also knows why people consulted Him on matters. Were they talking to God, trying to persuade God to act in a certain way? Or were they trying to figure out how they should act in a particular situation? If God was to share all the attitudes and personal insights into all the situations we have to deal with, would we understand? Would we have enough time and patients to sit and listen? Or do those situations change at such a dynamic rate, we would face a completely different situation by the time we understand events from an hour or day ago? People change like the wind, and as often as the weather. If we were honest with ourselves, wouldn’t we have to admit, most of the problems in this world are too involved for us to solve. Ahaz had to learn the hard way, money is not the solution to any problem. Like a drug it may cover up the effects for a time, but when the wind of society changes, the symptoms are much worse than before.

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Jehoiada Died

Posted by Ez1 Realty on December 3, 2017

2 Chronicles 24:15-22 NLTse (15) Jehoiada lived to a very old age, finally dying at 130. (16) He was buried among the kings in the City of David, because he had done so much good in Judah for God and his Temple. (17) But after Jehoiada’s death, the leaders of Judah came and bowed before King Joash and persuaded him to listen to their advice. (18) They decided to abandon the Temple of the LORD, the God of their ancestors, and they worshiped Asherah poles and idols instead! Because of this sin, divine anger fell on Judah and Jerusalem. (19) Yet the LORD sent prophets to bring them back to him. The prophets warned them, but still the people would not listen. (20) Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood before the people and said, “This is what God says: Why do you disobey the LORD’s commands and keep yourselves from prospering? You have abandoned the LORD, and now he has abandoned you!” (21) Then the leaders plotted to kill Zechariah, and King Joash ordered that they stone him to death in the courtyard of the LORD’s Temple. (22) That was how King Joash repaid Jehoiada for his loyalty–by killing his son. Zechariah’s last words as he died were, “May the LORD see what they are doing and avenge my death!”

Jehoiada lived a long life and was honored like a king? Why? Because he deposed an evil king, raised the last of David’s direct decedents as his own son, and placed him on the throne at the proper time. Jehoiada played a major role in Jerusalem’s history and was as close to the king as anyone could be.

It seems there were people waiting in the wings waiting to initiate some of their own changes. It seemed rather strange for no one to stand behind Athaliah during the uprising. This shows almost the opposite theme. As soon as Jehoiada died, people stepped in to turn the temple back into the same Pagan shrine it was during Athaliah’s reign. What lesson does that teach us?

This world is filled with people with bad intentions, but don’t like the way a leader addresses their misguided affairs. Worshiping Pagan gods is like laundry. There is a time to clean it, a time to put it on, a time to throw it away, and by some new clothes. There is a time for it to go out of style. A time to make a new image. Sort of roll with the times and go with the flow. Fashion is that way, and false gods follow the same pattern. If the style becomes old and boring, bring in a new wardrobe.

People tend to flock to religions that go with the flow, are liquid, easily changed to suit the times. People like religions that easily bend and transform to their will. Or can we say whims? This part of the story tells us how people didn’t appreciate the structure Athaliah brought to her Pagan religion. People watched her pass away, but didn’t give up their concept of that false religion. They laid in the weeds waiting to reintroduce their concepts. They saw a door open as soon as Jehoiada died.

How did Joash change overnight? We have to examine the timing. What happens whenever a loved one dies? It creates a gap or void in your life. People more often than not describe the loose of a loved one as being in shock. People are not in their right mind. To those leaders, it was the perfect time to influence Joash. They had something to fill that void, and if they acted quickly enough, they could gain a valuable ally. That is what happened. An example of human nature at its worst.

God tried prophets. But that didn’t work. People loved the freedom to create a religion more than the Creator. They had an idea of what God demanded, and thought they were are able to fashion the good life as well as God was. To them it was a chance to make life better without God. The protection and defenses Joash built seemed adequate. What those people did was forget how God stepped in to save their lives and nations in the past. And how God was able to motivate and direct foreign armies at His will. People forgot a lot about God. People only wanted to look at the things they termed as negative and restricting.

What course do modern theologians take when concentrating on the negative? What do they accomplish when looking only at mistakes people in the Bible made? How much do they miss? A better question may be, why do people concentrate on negative aspects in scripture? Is that what the world wants?

Let’s take a step back to answer that question. People loved Pagan religions because it allowed them to create something different, something that made them feel good about themselves. They could make their own rules, ceremonies, and traditions. Pagan religions were created to make people feel good about themselves. At least the leaders. Maybe not everyone, but the leaders felt good.

When people concentrate on negative aspects in the Bible, why are they driven in that direction? They know they sinned. They don’t feel good about sinning, but don’t want to deal with the real issues at hand. When they find a collection of people in scripture making bigger mistakes, that tends to ease the pain or guilt of their sins. In essence, they found something to fill the void sin created between themselves and God. Now what is the difference between those Pagan religions and modern self made religions that concentrate on negative aspects? Both run away from a full view of the One Living God.

The main point of this story focuses on a man who didn’t run away from God. The LORD had to find someone who was listening. The Spirit came upon Zechariah in a powerful way. God wanted to save Joash. Surely he will listen to his brother.

Zechariah was like a brother to Joash. Both were raised by Jehoiada. Joash owed his life to Zechariah as well as Joash. If Zechariah was the jealous type, he could have turned in Joash for a reward. But Joash didn’t consider the messages Zechariah delivered, or how their lives were intertwined. Whoever got to Joash had such and evil influence over him, they talked him into killing his own brother. Not only are we learning how quickly things can change, we are seeing how far the devil will go.

When we think, Jehoiada had Athaliah removed from the temple courtyard before slaying her showed a certain respect Jehoiada had for God. When Joash had his adopted brother killed between the gate and alter, that respect was gone. What happened to it? The story is so important, Jesus sent people back to read it.

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you build tombs for the prophets your ancestors killed, and you decorate the monuments of the godly people your ancestors destroyed. Then you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would never have joined them in killing the prophets.’ “But in saying that, you testify against yourselves that you are indeed the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Go ahead and finish what your ancestors started. Snakes! Sons of vipers! How will you escape the judgment of hell? “Therefore, I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers of religious law. But you will kill some by crucifixion, and you will flog others with whips in your synagogues, chasing them from city to city. As a result, you will be held responsible for the murder of all godly people of all time–from the murder of righteous Abel to the murder of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you killed in the Temple between the sanctuary and the altar. I tell you the truth, this judgment will fall on this very generation. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. And now, look, your house is abandoned and desolate. For I tell you this, you will never see me again until you say, ‘Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD!'” (Matthew 23:29-39 NLTse).

Jesus had trouble with the religious leaders of His time. He had some tough messages for them. Messages they didn’t want to hear. Jesus sent them back to this story to learn a few points. Jesus wanted them to see the relationship between Jehoiada and Joash, and of course Joash and Zechariah. If the priests and Pharisees could see those relationships, they may have gained a better understanding of Jesus’ ministry and His message. They may have seen the type of relationship He tried to establish with them. But those religious leaders refused to give the subject any thought.

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The Laws of the Prophets in Detail

Posted by Ez1 Realty on December 2, 2017

Jehoshaphat Sent Out Teachers

2 Chronicles 17:7-10 NLTse (7) In the third year of his reign Jehoshaphat sent his officials to teach in all the towns of Judah. These officials included Ben-hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel, and Micaiah. (8) He sent Levites along with them, including Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah, and Tob-adonijah. He also sent out the priests Elishama and Jehoram. (9) They took copies of the Book of the Law of the LORD and traveled around through all the towns of Judah, teaching the people. (10) Then the fear of the LORD fell over all the surrounding kingdoms so that none of them wanted to declare war on Jehoshaphat.

On one hand we see Jehoshaphat building up defenses. On the other hand we see Jehoshaphat sending out people to teach about God. That may seem like a conflict of interests. Some people may complain about the fact, funds used to build defenses could have been used to further the word about God. But what would their plans be? How would critics teach people about God?

Sure we have a host of experts in the world today telling people what they should know about God. Most of that information is taken from church manuals, doctrines, seminars, and other sources directly related to — a human source. People like to believe their teachers have a direct connection with God. Some how. But they are not really sure what kind of connection their teachers have with God. People tell me, they are pretty sure their leaders pray. But how do they pray. If they did have a direct connection with God in any way, shape, or form, I’m sure they’d be able to explain every detail. If you talked to God, I’m sure you’d be able to explain every detail of the conversation.

God’s communication with us shouldn’t be a mystery, or something specially reserved for only a few people. If it was, we’d have to pull out proof from the Bible, something like a list of attributes those people need to have, how they are chosen as God’s mouth piece, and who chooses them. Since we don’t have any information in the Bible showing us how humans choose prophets, we would have to discount that concept as another man made tradition that never worked.

How does God communicate with us? We’re given a few examples in the story about Jehoshaphat sending out people to teach about God in 2 Chronicles chapter 17. Number one is scripture. The men Jehoshaphat sent out took copies of the scriptures. They didn’t rely on their memories, or a man made list of commentaries on the law. They took out copies of the original law, which is often referred to as the set of books Moses recorded. With just that little information, those men were able to lead people to God. That is 5 out of 66 books, Today we have all 66 books in the Bible, but what are we doing with them. We may carry a full copy of the Bible, but how many people read the entire Bible? Some people may appear to teach from the Bible, but tradition today tells them to restrict what we teach to a verse or two. That is far less than 1% of what Jehoshaphat sent his people out to teach with.

We live in a society that constantly attempts to define how God teaches, what He can teach, and what He cannot teach. People claim, certain concepts are too in-depth to properly teach. So they are kicked to the side of the road until —- someone takes time to discover the truth on their own. We could debate everything people do wrong on the subject of how God communicates with this world, or we could look at a few simple concepts God successfully uses.

God’s recorded word may be the most important way God communicates with this world. The Bible tells us how God chose prophets, who they were, what they did for God, how they delivered messages, and how they identified themselves as prophets. That is what I refer to as the law of the prophets. Jeremiah was a prophet, who just happened to find himself standing against a long list of consultants referred to as false prophets. Some of them claimed to talk for God, but none of them ever explained how God communicated with them. False prophets jumped right into the messages they wanted to deliver, and didn’t explain details like true prophets do. One day, Jeremiah had to explain the difference between a real prophet and a prophet out for profit.

Before we understand what Jeremiah wrote about the laws prophets followed, we have to understand why he wrote those laws. We could say, we have to understand why God told Jeremiah to write those laws. How do we understand the situation Jeremiah was in? We read the beginning of the story. Does that mean we should read the entire chapter? If you really want to understand how God communicates with us, you would. But in this example, we will only deal with one story, one little segment of time in the life of a prophet. If you chose to read the entire book about Jeremiah, you’d see a good example showing how God chose a prophet, and trained Jeremiah for the task at hand.

Where is a good place to begin, if we only want to understand why God felt there was a need to write a few laws His prophets had to follow? The beginning of the chapter usually explains the circumstances the chapter deals with. The Bible just happens to be arranged like that.

Jeremiah 23:1-2 NLTse “What sorrow awaits the leaders of my people–the shepherds of my sheep–for they have destroyed and scattered the very ones they were expected to care for,” says the LORD. (2) Therefore, this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to these shepherds: “Instead of caring for my flock and leading them to safety, you have deserted them and driven them to destruction. Now I will pour out judgment on you for the evil you have done to them.

We have to ask, what leaders is God talking about? Is He referring to kings, governors, elders, and does that list include prophets? We can let the Bible provide the answer.

Jeremiah 23:5-7 NLTse “For the time is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will be a King who rules with wisdom. He will do what is just and right throughout the land. (6) And this will be his name: ‘The LORD Is Our Righteousness.’ In that day Judah will be saved, and Israel will live in safety. (7) “In that day,” says the LORD, “when people are taking an oath, they will no longer say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who rescued the people of Israel from the land of Egypt.’

A quick reading will make one think, God was only referring to kings when He talked about leaders. Since the word King is repeated in the explanation, in this case a prophecy pointing to God’s Son, Jesus, some people would only consider that single point. But the words right, righteous, and Righteousness are related words all pointing to an attribute leaders should have. Especially if they are leading His people. When we look at Jesus’ righteousness, we have to take a good long look at His life, especially His ministry in this world. To stay focused, we will only look at titles Jesus had. Teacher was one of them. Jesus taught people. His style of teaching was focused on the individual. Jesus also holds the title of High Priest. That is a study all its own. People also referred to Jesus as a prophet. The main point is, to understand the laws of the prophets, it is important for us to understand what a prophet is, and the many roles they fulfill. Leaders are more than kings and people who pass laws, collect taxes, and conduct business like a king. Leaders included every aspect of life Jesus lived and taught about.

So far we’ve seen there are two types of leaders. One set will lead people into destruction, while Jesus is an example of the other type of leader who will lead the sheep where? If they want to be safe, the logical answer will be, to the Master Shepherd. Jesus explained more about the symbolic meaning of sheep and the shepherd.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep. “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, (John 10:11-14 NLTse).

We can see how scripture established its own connection between one story in the Bible and another using a few key words or symbols. When we get back to Jeremiah, we see other details telling us why God needed laws for His prophets.

My heart is broken because of the false prophets, and my bones tremble. I stagger like a drunkard, like someone overcome by wine, because of the holy words the LORD has spoken against them. For the land is full of adultery, and it lies under a curse. The land itself is in mourning– its wilderness pastures are dried up. For they all do evil and abuse what power they have. “Even the priests and prophets are ungodly, wicked men. I have seen their despicable acts right here in my own Temple,” says the LORD. “Therefore, the paths they take will become slippery. They will be chased through the dark, and there they will fall. For I will bring disaster upon them at the time fixed for their punishment. I, the LORD, have spoken! (Jeremiah 23:9-12 NLTse).

God gave us a taste of where those false prophets will lead people. But God never intended to give us a complete definition of a false prophet. That would be like hitting a moving target. God is not in charge of false prophets, nor is God about to give the devil any ideas of how to use false prophets. God provided a brief description. That was it. But some people look at this as a complete list. The list is from the all knowing God, so it must be complete. What a near sighted view of the scriptures. God did not write a book containing a complete list of mistakes this world will make. Only examples for generations to learn from. We play a part in logical thinking, and of course, getting God involved in our study of the scriptures. Which is one of the most important ways God does communicate with this world.

Therefore, this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says concerning the prophets: “I will feed them with bitterness and give them poison to drink. For it is because of Jerusalem’s prophets that wickedness has filled this land.” This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says to his people: “Do not listen to these prophets when they prophesy to you, filling you with futile hopes. They are making up everything they say. They do not speak for the LORD! They keep saying to those who despise my word, ‘Don’t worry! The LORD says you will have peace!’ And to those who stubbornly follow their own desires, they say, ‘No harm will come your way!’ (Jeremiah 23:15-17 NLTse).

God’s message is short and sweet. Don’t listen to those false prophets. They claim they know what they are talking about, but they turn good into evil, and evil into good. Their main theme seems to be, don’t worry about it. Sure they point out threats of destruction, but always seem to know a way out. Look at scripture, it is filled with examples.

“Have any of these prophets been in the LORD’s presence to hear what he is really saying? Has even one of them cared enough to listen? Look! The LORD’s anger bursts out like a storm, a whirlwind that swirls down on the heads of the wicked. The anger of the LORD will not diminish until it has finished all he has planned. In the days to come you will understand all this very clearly. “I have not sent these prophets, yet they run around claiming to speak for me. I have given them no message, yet they go on prophesying. If they had stood before me and listened to me, they would have spoken my words, and they would have turned my people from their evil ways and deeds. (Jeremiah 23:18-22 NLTse).

Here is the real question. “Have any of these prophets been in the LORD’s presence to hear what he is really saying? Has even one of them cared enough to listen?” Notice how God arranged this as a two part question. The first part tells us, YES, people do stand in God’s presence to hear HIM. There it is in writing, taken straight from the Bible. God is inviting people into His presence to listen, which is the second part of the message. People have to listen when they are in God’s presence. Being in God’s presence is not a chance to give God a long list of tasks for Him to perform. More often than not, God wants to tell you something you didn’t think about. Maybe God wanted to tell you something about the future. How are we supposed to make requests about the future? There is no way anyone in this world could possibly ask God the right questions about the future. That is why it is so important to listen to God.

Many false prophets jump from a line or two they pulled out of the Bible, apply that to something they saw on the news, then jump to a conclusion, in other words, tell people about the future based on what they think. Not what they heard from God, but their own thoughts.

Am I a God who is only close at hand?” says the LORD. “No, I am far away at the same time. Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” says the LORD. “I have heard these prophets say, ‘Listen to the dream I had from God last night.’ And then they proceed to tell lies in my name. How long will this go on? If they are prophets, they are prophets of deceit, inventing everything they say. By telling these false dreams, they are trying to get my people to forget me, just as their ancestors did by worshiping the idols of Baal. (Jeremiah 23:23-27 NLTse).

This is one of the most important parts of Jeremiah’s message. God has been talking about prophets, but in a very negative way. God has been warning about false prophets. When we look at what we just read about God, how he is close at hand, would a real prophet insist that part of the message is only for a handful of prophets? Or would a false prophet make it sound like God was only referring to a handful of people? The scripture states, false prophets want people to forget about God.

Finally we get to where Jeremiah explained how we should be able to tell the difference between a real prophet, and a false prophet.

Jeremiah 23:33-37 NLTse (33) “Suppose one of the people or one of the prophets or priests asks you, ‘What prophecy has the LORD burdened you with now?’ You must reply, ‘You are the burden! The LORD says he will abandon you!’ (34) “If any prophet, priest, or anyone else says, ‘I have a prophecy from the LORD,’ I will punish that person along with his entire family. (35) You should keep asking each other,What is the LORD’s answer?’ or ‘What is the LORD saying?’ (36) But stop using this phrase, ‘prophecy from the LORD.’ For people are using it to give authority to their own ideas, turning upside down the words of our God, the living God, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. (37) “This is what you should say to the prophets: ‘What is the LORD’s answer?’ or ‘What is the LORD saying?’

Did you notice how the sentences or phrases are repeated. That is so we don’t miss them. In a way, the sentence structure doesn’t make sense. Why ask the same question twice? There has to be more than one question to determine if a prophet is real or not. Believe it or not, questions like those come from Heaven. Think about it. Our only protection against false prophets is a question. Common sense would tell us, there has to be more than one question to test a prophet. There is more than one question. We have to learn to LISTEN to God to find out what the other questions are. Does that make sense? If God told us, he is near, and wants people to listen, when does He want us to begin? Most likely right away.

If you know how to listen to God, you’ll be looking at that word, what, and asking what it means. Not in English, but the original Hebrew.

WHAT H4100,מֶה מַ־ מָ־ מַה מָה mâh mah mâ ma meh maw, mah, maw, mah, meh

A primitive particle; properly interrogative what? (including how?, why? and when?); but also exclamations like what! (including how!), or indefinitely what (including whatever, and even relatively that which); often used with prefixes in various adverbial or conjugational senses: – how (long, oft, [-soever]), [no-] thing, what (end, good, purpose, thing), whereby (-fore, -in, -to, -with), (for) why.

As it turns out, there is much more to the question than the average person would ever see on their own. It turns out they have to pay attention to the previous sentence when God tells us, He is close at hand. We may have to look at another translation to see how that question was arranged. “Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off?” (Jeremiah 23:23 KJV). When God begins asking questions, and tells us how to ask questions to protect ourselves, shouldn’t we be paying attention to questions?

That set of questions is what I refer to as God’s law of the prophets. It is a law designed to protect us. It was a law Jeremiah gave to Israel to show how to protect themselves. It was also a law designed to protect Jeremiah, because the messages he had to delver upset a lot of people. No one can argue the protection attached to this message. The protection expands.

We have to ask a prophet to explain how they received their message from God. If they can’t explain how they stood in God’s presence, it is because they were never there. We also have to ask why God spoke to them. God speaks for a reason. It is to protect someone, teach them, reveal something new, or because we forgot something? Most prophets told when God spoke to them in the introduction to their message. We usually see something along the lines of, the king in power and the year of his reign. We can’t forget the factor, there may be other questions to ask. Those other questions require us to be in God’s presence to learn those questions. This simple explanation in Jeremiah tells us, our only safety lies in God’s presence.

How did we derive at that conclusion, in other words, how did we allow God’s Spirit to lead us on such a journey through scripture? We had to decide on a starting point, which was the beginning of the chapter. That is called the rule of introductions, which takes into account, the Bible is divided into chapters, and the beginning of each chapter gives us a brief explanation of the subject that chapter covers.

Scripture uses key words, another rule of context, which is designed to led us to another story in another book, explaining the same subject with more details. Key words are part of the rules of context. Some key words were repeated to draw our attention. That is the rule of repetition. We looked in the Hebrew dictionary to learn more about a word. Another rule of context often used to look deeper into scripture.

The rules of context can be referred to as the laws of context by any serious student of the Bible. We needed those laws of context to lead us to a deeper and better understanding of the laws of the prophets. The laws of context and laws of the prophets have one important thing in common, neither one of them amount to a thing without God’s presence.

Do we have any evidence that is what Jehoshaphat sent his people out to teach? We do. “Then the fear of the LORD fell over all the surrounding kingdoms so that none of them wanted to declare war on Jehoshaphat.” What caused those people to fear the LORD? Was it simply what they heard from caravans and other means of communication? Or did God’s Spirit play a role in that fear? No matter who people are, no matter what they believe, or don’t believe, no matter how far they are away from God, there is always a way for God to reach them. The main factor is, how closely they want to listen. God could have offered the same peace to any of those nations He gave to Jerusalem. All they had to know was the right questions, and how to listen.

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Asa Remained Loyal

Posted by Ez1 Realty on December 2, 2017

2 Chronicles 15:16-19 NLTse (16) King Asa even deposed his grandmother Maacah from her position as queen mother because she had made an obscene Asherah pole. He cut down her obscene pole, broke it up, and burned it in the Kidron Valley. (17) Although the pagan shrines were not removed from Israel, Asa’s heart remained completely faithful throughout his life. (18) He brought into the Temple of God the silver and gold and the various items that he and his father had dedicated. (19) So there was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign.

Here is another example of a king being as loyal to God as he knew how, and falling short of completing the job of removing all the evil influences in his kingdom. Does this show us how difficult it is for us to remove all the bad influences in our lives? The fact Asa’s grandmother was mentioned shows us, those poor influences can seep in for generations. Evil has its ways of merging into our lives in the most unexpected ways. We may be all the same family, but that bloodline does not make us holy, or unholy.

We also see Asa’s continued reliance in gold and silver from this world. It is not easy to turn off our reliance on this world. We have a tendency of following God to a certain degree, and setting up worldly treasures as a security blanket. We are conditioned by this world to have cash on hand just in case. In case of what?

Those kings saw God hand them victories they never could have imagined. Still they had to make their own safety net made up of worldly treasures. What happened with that money Asa and his father dedicated to God? It didn’t take long to make a withdraw and use that money dedicated to God to form an alliance with one of those outside influences God told them never to make a treaty with.

In the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s reign, King Baasha of Israel invaded Judah and fortified Ramah in order to prevent anyone from entering or leaving King Asa’s territory in Judah. Asa responded by removing the silver and gold from the treasuries of the Temple of the LORD and the royal palace. He sent it to King Ben-hadad of Aram, who was ruling in Damascus, along with this message: (2 Chronicles 16:1-2 NLTse).

The same king who dedicated those treasures to God decided to use it to pay off an invading army. What happened to that faith Asa had? Where did it go? It we looked ahead, we’d see how his son had to deal with the problems that money caused. See the family connection used? Now look at that story as if it was your father dedicating treasures to God, then deciding to rely on the gold and ignore God. Does that take on a new meaning when it becomes a family issue?

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God Entered the Temple 2 Chronicles 7

Posted by Ez1 Realty on November 29, 2017

2 Chronicles 7:1-6 NLTse (1) When Solomon finished praying, fire flashed down from heaven and burned up the burnt offerings and sacrifices, and the glorious presence of the LORD filled the Temple. (2) The priests could not enter the Temple of the LORD because the glorious presence of the LORD filled it. (3) When all the people of Israel saw the fire coming down and the glorious presence of the LORD filling the Temple, they fell face down on the ground and worshiped and praised the LORD, saying, “He is good! His faithful love endures forever!” (4) Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices to the LORD. (5) King Solomon offered a sacrifice of 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep and goats. And so the king and all the people dedicated the Temple of God. (6) The priests took their assigned positions, and so did the Levites who were singing, “His faithful love endures forever!” They accompanied the singing with music from the instruments King David had made for praising the LORD. Across from the Levites, the priests blew the trumpets, while all Israel stood.

There is no doubt, God was present for the dedication of the temple, and did fill the temple with His presence. The scene was much like Elijah’s experience with a few hundred prophets from Baal where they failed to show any connection with their God, and Elijah showed the presence of the One true living God.

We should compare this event to the original Tabernacle Moses built. Then he hung the curtains forming the courtyard around the Tabernacle and the altar. And he set up the curtain at the entrance of the courtyard. So at last Moses finished the work. Then the cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glory of the LORD filled the Tabernacle. Moses could no longer enter the Tabernacle because the cloud had settled down over it, and the glory of the LORD filled the Tabernacle. Now whenever the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out on their journey, following it. But if the cloud did not rise, they remained where they were until it lifted. The cloud of the LORD hovered over the Tabernacle during the day, and at night fire glowed inside the cloud so the whole family of Israel could see it. This continued throughout all their journeys. (Exodus 40:33-38 NLTse).

The first difference we see is fire at Solomon’s temple, and a cloud covering Moses’ Tabernacle. God’s glory filled both structures. The cloud was a signal from God showing when and where to move the Tabernacle, which was designed to be transported. There was no way to move the temple.

Solomon offered a large number of animals to dedicate his temple. Exodus chapter 29 described the sacrifices at the dedication of the Tabernacle. There was a vast difference between the number of sacrifices. The list for the Tabernacle was given to Moses directly from God. No one knows where Solomon came up with his list.

Festival of Shelters

2 Chronicles 7:7-8 NLTse (7) Solomon then consecrated the central area of the courtyard in front of the LORD’s Temple. He offered burnt offerings and the fat of peace offerings there, because the bronze altar he had built could not hold all the burnt offerings, grain offerings, and sacrificial fat. (8) For the next seven days Solomon and all Israel celebrated the Festival of Shelters. A large congregation had gathered from as far away as Lebo-hamath in the north and the Brook of Egypt in the south.

To understand this this part of the story, we have to understand what the Festival of Shelters is. “Remember that this seven-day festival to the LORD–the Festival of Shelters–begins on the fifteenth day of the appointed month, after you have harvested all the produce of the land. The first day and the eighth day of the festival will be days of complete rest. On the first day gather branches from magnificent trees–palm fronds, boughs from leafy trees, and willows that grow by the streams. Then celebrate with joy before the LORD your God for seven days. You must observe this festival to the LORD for seven days every year. This is a permanent law for you, and it must be observed in the appointed month from generation to generation. For seven days you must live outside in little shelters. All native-born Israelites must live in shelters. This will remind each new generation of Israelites that I made their ancestors live in shelters when I rescued them from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” So Moses gave the Israelites these instructions regarding the annual festivals of the LORD. (Leviticus 23:39-44 NLTse).

It seems rather ironic for Solomon to dedicate a stone house to God during a Festival when everyone was supposed to live in temporary tents made from tree branches. Solomon turned that Festival into a banquet.

The Dedication Ended

2 Chronicles 7:10-11 NLTse (10) Then at the end of the celebration, Solomon sent the people home. They were all joyful and glad because the LORD had been so good to David and to Solomon and to his people Israel. (11) So Solomon finished the Temple of the LORD, as well as the royal palace. He completed everything he had planned to do in the construction of the Temple and the palace.

Based on the fact Solomon sent all the people home, they had to live somewhere while visiting Jerusalem. Maybe all those people lived in temporary structures like God told them to. Now we have to think about the link Solomon was trying to establish, and what people thought about it

I’m not sure what point Solomon was trying to make. At the beginning of his prayer, Solomon talked about how great and powerful God is, and how the temple was constructed to honor Him. Did Solomon plan on making a bigger impression by placing God in a magnificent temple while people lived in stick huts? What other point was Solomon trying to make?

What impression did that leave on people? All I can say is, a far different impression than we can guess at or explain. We had to be there, in the position of sleeping in a temporary shelter while God moved into the stone temple. If the feeling was easy to explain, I think the author of Chronicles would have written a few lines about it. This is another example of missing information.

The author told us, people were happy. They witnessed God’s presence. Something made an impression on them. Solomon was happy. He finished the temple and his palace. He had a new home to go to. He also knew God was near. Most of the people shared that feeling. How would you feel after experiencing God’s presence?

God Talked to Solomon Again

2 Chronicles 7:12-22 NLTse (12) Then one night the LORD appeared to Solomon and said, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this Temple as the place for making sacrifices. (13) At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. (14) Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. (15) My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place. (16) For I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be holy–a place where my name will be honored forever. I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart. (17) “As for you, if you faithfully follow me as David your father did, obeying all my commands, decrees, and regulations, (18) then I will establish the throne of your dynasty. For I made this covenant with your father, David, when I said, ‘One of your descendants will always rule over Israel.’ (19) “But if you or your descendants abandon me and disobey the decrees and commands I have given you, and if you serve and worship other gods, (20) then I will uproot the people from this land that I have given them. I will reject this Temple that I have made holy to honor my name. I will make it an object of mockery and ridicule among the nations. (21) And though this Temple is impressive now, all who pass by will be appalled. They will ask, ‘Why did the LORD do such terrible things to this land and to this Temple?’ (22) “And the answer will be, ‘Because his people abandoned the LORD, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and they worshiped other gods instead and bowed down to them. That is why he has brought all these disasters on them.'”

Imagine seeing God’s presence at the dedication of the temple, then having God Himself tell you, He heard your prayer. How would that make you feel? Solomon’s heart must have been racing. The king would have been speechless thinking, God really heard me. We couldn’t imagine what that felt like, unless God appeared to us.

God made a sincere introduction “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this Temple as the place for making sacrifices.” But that didn’t mean everything was going to come up roses for Solomon or Israel. “At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you.” That meant trouble was coming, and something had to cause those problems.

God promised to listen, but how many people give that enough thought? Most Christians pray, but how do they pray? Do they tell God about the problems they’re facing, or listen to God when He tells us about the mistakes that led to those disappointing moments? Do we take advice from God and try to give up those sins that plague and control us, or go back to make it right with people we’ve sinned against? Are we honest and open enough with God to take the good with the bad? God did include humbling ourselves as one of the necessary steps in prayer.

God assured Solomon, “I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be holy–a place where my name will be honored forever. I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart.” God accepted Solomon’s gift, dedication, and sincere belief, the people needed a temple as much as God did.

God set boundaries with Solomon. He had to obey all of God’s commands, decrees, and regulations. That included everything Moses wrote. David’s dynasty was conditional. It was always conditional. The covenant exceeded beyond the family bloodline. God knew, good kings could lead people to Him, and evil kings would lead people away. If the nation turned evil, God would have no choice other than to give the nation of Israel up. God knew, He could give them what they asked for, or let them go. What did Israel ask for?

God reminded Solomon, the eyes of the world were on him and Israel. If God had to deal with their sins, it would make the temple look bad. Solomon built the temple as a place of prayer, a place for people to pray to, a place to remind them of God. That image could disappear as quickly as God took the throne away from Saul.

Based on the context of the conversation, when the temple disappeared, they would have no one but themselves to blame. They couldn’t blame it on other nations, the condition of the world, only their king, and themselves. God left one way in, and another way out of that agreement.

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The Altar and the Sea 2 Chronicles 4

Posted by Ez1 Realty on November 25, 2017

2 Chronicles 4:1-6 NLTse (1) Solomon also made a bronze altar 30 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 15 feet high. (2) Then he cast a great round basin, 15 feet across from rim to rim, called the Sea. It was 7 feet deep and about 45 feet in circumference. (3) It was encircled just below its rim by two rows of figures that resembled oxen. There were about six oxen per foot all the way around, and they were cast as part of the basin. (4) The Sea was placed on a base of twelve bronze oxen, all facing outward. Three faced north, three faced west, three faced south, and three faced east, and the Sea rested on them. (5) The walls of the Sea were about three inches thick, and its rim flared out like a cup and resembled a water lily blossom. It could hold about 16,500 gallons of water. (6) He also made ten smaller basins for washing the utensils for the burnt offerings. He set five on the south side and five on the north. But the priests washed themselves in the Sea.

I ran into a rather strange conversation last night on Matthew 15:11 NLTse “It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” Someone interpreted this single text to say, “Jesus canceled the entire Old testament.” I have a good idea where that translation came from. Someone wasted a lot of time looking for Biblical proof supporting a preconceived idea, we can eat anything we want. We can eat pigs, lobster, clams, dogs, cats, cat fish, and any other food that happens to crawl on our plates. A lot of Christianity shares that belief. It is very popular. Look at Christmas and Easter sales. What do most food stores have on sale? Ham. Somehow eating ham to celebrate Jesus’ birth and resurrection has become a widely accepted tradition. Where did that tradition come from? It isn’t in the Bible. Where do you think that tradition came from? Most likely some powerful church leaders developed a taste for ham. They happened to run across a single text that appeared to support the change they wanted to make. So they removed that single text from the story, presented it with the meaning they wanted to place on it, and what happened? The majority of the people in that church decided to start a new man made tradition. None of those people bothered to spend a minute to read the entire story, so a new tradition was born. Let’s break out of that mold and look at the entire story.

Matthew 15:1-3 NLTse Some Pharisees and teachers of religious law now arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. (2) “Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition?” they demanded. “They ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat.” (3) Jesus replied, “And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God?

The introduction to this story clearly tells us what that debate was about, washing hands before eating. Jesus pointed out, that was nothing more than a man made tradition. Strange how someone came along generations later to change this story into a new man made tradition.

As we progress through this story, we see Jesus presenting vital information about man made traditions. For instance, God says, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ In this way, you say they don’t need to honor their parents. And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition. (Matthew 15:4-6 NLTse).

Jesus used one of the Ten Commandments to show how far some people will go when their sights are set on changing God’s laws. In this example, Jesus showed how far the Pharisees went to change one of God’s Commandments. “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the LORD your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12 NLTse).

Then Jesus did something very important. He quoted from the Old Testament. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.'” (Matthew 15:7-9 NLTse). If Jesus was canceling the Old Testament, why was He quoting from it in this conversation?

The debate is about washed and unwashed hands, God’s law verses man made traditions, and wisdom verses foolishness. A wise person will look up what Jesus quoted and read the entire story. Here is a small portion.

Are you amazed and incredulous? Don’t you believe it? Then go ahead and be blind. You are stupid, but not from wine! You stagger, but not from liquor! For the LORD has poured out on you a spirit of deep sleep. He has closed the eyes of your prophets and visionaries. All the future events in this vision are like a sealed book to them. When you give it to those who can read, they will say, “We can’t read it because it is sealed.” When you give it to those who cannot read, they will say, “We don’t know how to read.” And so the Lord says, “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote. Because of this, I will once again astound these hypocrites with amazing wonders. The wisdom of the wise will pass away, and the intelligence of the intelligent will disappear.” What sorrow awaits those who try to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their evil deeds in the dark! “The LORD can’t see us,” they say. “He doesn’t know what’s going on!” (Isaiah 29:9-15 NLTse).

Jesus showed how people will claim, scripture is too hard to understand. So spiritually blind leaders will come along to offer their versions of plain and simple explanations. That is referred to as being drunk, which points to mixing a little scripture with a lot of man made concepts.

Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” (Matthew 15:10-11 NLTse). This is the one sentence people cling to in an attempt to do what Isaiah warned about. They take out one little piece of a story and turn it into something new. Something they agree with, but something that amounts to nothing more than a man-made law.

Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?” Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.” (Matthew 15:12-14 NLTse).

Jesus didn’t call the Pharisees blind guides in front of their face, or in front of the other people. Jesus was having a private conversation with His disciples when He expounded on another detail Isaiah wrote. That was more or less a reminder for His disciples to review the story Isaiah recorded. After all, the disciples were there to learn how to understand. That is why Jesus repeated the word understand a number of times. Jesus was teaching them how to understand. Reading the entire story is an important part of understanding.

Then Peter said to Jesus, “Explain to us the parable that says people aren’t defiled by what they eat.” “Don’t you understand yet?” Jesus asked. “Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. But the words you speak come from the heart–that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.” (Matthew 15:15-20 NLTse).

If the disciples didn’t understand, what chance did the Pharisees have? Jesus repeated the word understand a number of times. Jesus quoted parts of Isaiah twice. Jesus was teaching the disciples how to understand, read the entire story. Don’t rely on what you remember, and never reply on tiny portions of scripture people use to teach. If Jesus expected the Pharisees and His disciples to read the whole story, what is that teaching us?

Jesus ended the conversation by making sure there was no misunderstanding, and there could never be any type of misunderstanding. Jesus reminded the disciples what the topic was, washing hands. Somehow, someone turned a little bit of dirt on their hands, or under their fingernails into a pig, or the entire Old Testament. No wonder Moses and Daniel referred to people like that as magicians. They make things appear out of a little bit of dirt.

What does that story have to do with the temple Solomon constructed in God’s honor? A lot when you consider the laws of context required to understand the often misinterpreted story about Jesus, the Pharisees hand washing, and what God told Israel about animals and food. When we review that law, we can see why God set those restrictions.

Do not defile yourselves by touching them. You must not make yourselves ceremonially unclean because of them. For I am the LORD your God. You must consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. So do not defile yourselves with any of these small animals that scurry along the ground. For I, the LORD, am the one who brought you up from the land of Egypt, that I might be your God. Therefore, you must be holy because I am holy. “These are the instructions regarding land animals, birds, marine creatures, and animals that scurry along the ground. By these instructions you will know what is unclean and clean, and which animals may be eaten and which may not be eaten.” (Leviticus 11:43-47 NLTse).

Leviticus chapter 11 deals with what subject? What to eat and what not to eat. Let’s use the rule of first mention to gather a little more information on the subject. But the LORD God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden– except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” (Genesis 2:16-17 NLTse).

The very first command about what to eat, and what not to eat was directly linked to what? Knowledge. The tree of knowledge. Look at what the Pharisees did. They took a list of animals God told them not to eat, then decided to use their knowledge of good and evil to take God’s command a few steps further by adding any dirt that may be on your hands, or under your fingernails. Can you hear the pride in their voice when they declared to God, “look, we took one of your laws and made it better.” Is that what we’re supposed to do with God’s laws? The ironic thing about that story is, a few generations later, some men decided to swing the other way by claiming that dirt under the fingernails pointed to all those animals in Leviticus chapter 11.

God set up another simple test. This food is clean, and that food is unclean. If you want to be holy like me, avoid unclean food. But some people can’t grasp onto God’s simple words. They claim it is nearly impossible to understand, or they want to go beyond what God’s prophets recorded. Most of the time those amendments to God’s laws are in favor of the people who created them. They change God’s laws for simple reasons. They want to be like gods, and they can’t live by God’s laws. So make the laws adapt to your life style.

When we look at the temple, we have to consider a lot of different views. David designed the temple. Solomon built the temple. Both men wanted to honor God. No one can argue with that. Along the way. Solomon was influenced by, we have no idea of how many wives he married in that time frame, or how they influenced him. Solomon also hired outsiders, known as Pagans, to draw up the final plans, and supervise the construction of the temple. There had to have been a few modifications along the way. Then of course we have the most predominant changes to the temple, modern interpretations.

People involved in self supported personal ministries have a totally different view of the temple than committees engaged in building the next super church in this world. An individual struggling to feed 150 homeless people will put little value on building a new super structure to honor God. In fact, they are likely to look at such as expense as a total waste of valuable funds. On the other hand, a group of fund raising consultants will milk Solomon’s temple for all it’s worth, claiming super structures, large churches, and elaborate buildings are the only way to honor God. Consultants will plan ways of making every member feel inadequate if they are not giving till it hurts, and plan ways of cutting deeper. Consultants will pit member against member to see who can sacrifice the most, in a quest to secure God’s favor.

I’ve been involved in church board meetings, and committee meetings to raise money to build new churches. Consultants have written plans before they meet with the church. Their plans seem to be, one size fits all. For the most part, they are not too Biblical, and of course they focus on Solomon’s temple.

Fund raising gauges are printed and plastered all of the church like little idols on the walls to announce progress. To some they invoke a sense of honor. To others those gauges are a badge of disgrace. A few choice texts from the Bible are used to establish battle fronts between members who gave enough, and those struggling to give more. Is that what Jesus pointed to when He said something about serving either God or money?

Of course they use the story about the poor widow who put the last few pennies she had into a box placed inside the temple courtyard. But they never tell people the full story about that widow, and what happened that day, or how the author led up to that story.

On the previous day, Jesus walked into the temple and threw out the money changers and people selling lambs and birds to sacrifice. That was just before Passover. The priests spent the entire year thinking about all the money they were going to make over that festival. When Jesus disrupted their money making machine, the priests had no choice but to give up their vacation, and go to the temple to get production back online and up to speed. What did they find when they got there? Jesus, the man they plotted to kill, standing among the empty sheep stalls, preaching.

If Jesus hadn’t interrupted production, none those priests would have been there to hear Him speak. That was only a a short time before the priests sent out a gang of armed guard to arrest Jesus.

All the priests showed up that day. Each one wanted to be the hero of the day, coming up with the simple solution to the problem. Looking at the huge crowd below them, one of the priests came up with a simple solution to the problem. They could take advantage of the crowd Jesus attracted by placing a donation box in the middle of the courtyard. The other priests agreed. To get things rolling, the priests were the first people to form a line and drop in a few tokens. Other people followed. The poor widow felt so bad, she had to give something. So she gave up her meal for the day. To the widow it seemed like a small price to pay after listening to Jesus all day long. It wasn’t her fault. Like everyone else, she saw Jesus on one side of the courtyard, and the priests on the other. When she saw the priests dropping in money, she assumed they are supporting Jesus’ ministry, and that was what the money was going to be used for. No one had any idea the money was going to the priests to up for the silver used to pay Judas to betray Jesus.

Whenever we take one or two verses out of a story, we run the risk of turning that little bit of information into a new man made tradition. Imagine taking a story about tricking people out of money to betray Jesus, and turning it into a story to raise money to honor God. Something is wrong with that attitude.

You can’t find anything about a box in the temple courtyard to raise money in the Bible. It was not a Passover tradition until that day. Some of that money was used to pay off the guards to remain silent about Jesus’ resurrection. It doesn’t matter which way we look, before that story, or after that story about the widow, the results are the same. The money was not used for anything good.

Jesus told a story about money inside the courtyard that day. Later the leaders sent some Pharisees and supporters of Herod to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested. “Teacher,” they said, “we know how honest you are. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. You teach the way of God truthfully. Now tell us–is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay them, or shouldn’t we?” Jesus saw through their hypocrisy and said, “Why are you trying to trap me? Show me a Roman coin, and I’ll tell you.” When they handed it to him, he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. “Well, then,” Jesus said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” His reply completely amazed them. (Mark 12:13-17 NLTse).

The priests were experts at collecting taxes, and making people feel like it was their duty to pay and pay. That is another tradition alive and well today. It may be bad to pit church members against each other to raise money, but some people go to extremes to raise money for church projects. One of the worst in the prosperity angle. If you give, God will bless you attitude. Preachers show off their money and success, pull in one sentence from scripture, then spend and hour telling people how God will bless them if they give. A few preachers claim, God will curse them if they don’t give. But the worst is when preachers try to mix prosperity, donations, and the gift pf healing. Those are some of the richest preachers in the world. Listen to them. Take notes on the scripture they use, and read the whole story to determine if they are using it within context, or altering the message to suit their needs.

When we look at the temple as a whole, we can see, Solomon made some mistakes. I never saw how objects and symbols in the temple were moved from one position to another before I compared descriptions for each. The Tabernacle was built from a specific pattern God gave Moses. Within that pattern, there is a time element showing the progression of Jesus’ ministry, and the plan of salvation. Details are explained in other books in the Bible. God set that time element throughout the Tabernacle in perfect order. When we learn how to study each detail, and put all the facts together, we see a distinct timeline of Jesus’ ministry from the sacrificial alter to the Most Holy room. Take out one element, or move it out of place, and the entire message is lost. That is what scares me when I see a number of details moved out of place in the temple.

Look at those pomegranates placed outside the temple, the missing bells, and the chains changed from gold to bronze. How can we see so many changes without asking why? And what do those changes represent? What type of man made traditions did those changes lead to? Not that Solomon intended to create new traditions, but later generations became famous for taking little bits and pieces of that temple to create new doctrines and traditions. How do we go back to separate fact from fiction?

The author gave us dimensions to the alter Solomon built. Solomon also made a bronze altar 30 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 15 feet high. How does that compare to the alter Moses built? “Using acacia wood, construct a square altar 7 feet wide, 7 feet long, and 4 feet high. (Exodus 27:1 NLTse). Why did Solomon build an altar more than three times larger than the one Moses built? And why did Solomon omit the wood Moses was instructed to use?

How a wooden alter survived the heat has long been a mystery. Some claim it was because the bronze covering protected the wood. If that was the case, eventually the bronze covering would transfer the heat to the wood, and it would soon turn into charcoal. The answer lies in the design God used.

“Using acacia wood, construct a square altar 7 feet wide, 7 feet long, and 4 feet high. Make horns for each of its four corners so that the horns and altar are all one piece. Overlay the altar with bronze. Make ash buckets, shovels, basins, meat forks, and firepans, all of bronze. Make a bronze grating for it, and attach four bronze rings at its four corners. Install the grating halfway down the side of the altar, under the ledge. For carrying the altar, make poles from acacia wood, and overlay them with bronze. Insert the poles through the rings on the two sides of the altar. The altar must be hollow, made from planks. Build it just as you were shown on the mountain. (Exodus 27:1-8 NLTse).

This is another case of reading the full story, and paying attention to the details. Make a bronze grating for it, and attach four bronze rings at its four corners. Install the grating halfway down the side of the altar, under the ledge. The wooden portion covered in bronze was on the outside of the alter. The inside of the alter that saw the flames and heat was made of solid bronze. Cooler air rising from the sides was enough to keep the wooden part of the altar cool and safe. No wonder God stressed the point, “You must build this Tabernacle and its furnishings exactly according to the pattern I will show you.” (Exodus 25:9 NLTse). Another lesson on how to follow instructions.

We have a few changes to the altar to consider. One of them is the height. The original altar was four feet high, set at a height for the priests to perform their duties with their feet on the ground. Solomon’s alter was fifteen feet high. Why is that a concern? Look at what Moses was warned about. “Do not approach my altar by going up steps. If you do, someone might look up under your clothing and see your nakedness.” (Exodus 20:26 NLTse).

What is the spiritual meaning of nakedness, and how does that fit into the sacrificial system? We can use the rule of first mention to look at the word naked. Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame. (Genesis 2:25 NLTse). At first being naked didn’t cause any problems. But what happened after sin? “The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.” (Genesis 3:6-7 NLTse).

In the garden, there was a spiritual connection established between sin, nakedness, and shame. Does that apply to Solomon’s fifteen foot high altar? On the surface, maybe. On the spiritual level, unlikely. We don’t have enough key words to link the two stories. That won’t stop some people from establishing their own connection. But for us, it should be enough to know, God told Moses not to make elevated altars.

The size of Solomon’s altar matches the cherubim in the Most Holy room, and pillars at the front of the temple. We now have supersized items inside, outside the temple, and in the courtyard. Why the larger structures?

We have a chance to concentrate on a lot of guesswork here. But that’s not where we want to stray. It is enough to look at differences between the Tabernacle and the temple without trying to guess why. If God wanted us to know, He would have explained it.

Another feature was added, something referred to as a basin supported by twelve oxen. Where did Solomon get that idea? Was it from David, or his Egyptian wife? Chronicles doesn’t give us enough information to formulate a decision. But we can look at the description in Kings.

Then Huram cast a great round basin, 15 feet across from rim to rim, called the Sea. It was 7 feet deep and about 45 feet in circumference. It was encircled just below its rim by two rows of decorative gourds. There were about six gourds per foot all the way around, and they were cast as part of the basin. The Sea was placed on a base of twelve bronze oxen, all facing outward. Three faced north, three faced west, three faced south, and three faced east, and the Sea rested on them. The walls of the Sea were about three inches thick, and its rim flared out like a cup and resembled a water lily blossom. It could hold about 11,000 gallons of water. (1 Kings 7:23-26 NLTse).

Descriptions of the basin are similar, but the context of the stories are different. Although details of the basin are grouped with other articles in the temple, the chapter in 1 Kings began with descriptions of Solomon’s palace, and a palace built for his first wife.

Solomon’s living quarters surrounded a courtyard behind this hall, and they were constructed the same way. He also built similar living quarters for Pharaoh’s daughter, whom he had married. (1 Kings 7:8 NLTse). The question is, was that basin with the twelve oxen originally built for his wife’s courtyard, then moved to the temper courtyard?

We have to realize, the Book of Kings and Chronicles were written long after Solomon build his temple. They were inspired books, but when we look at details like this, what is important? What the basin was built for, or where it wound up?

Water and bulls were two major gods in Egypt. It wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibilities, that basin was built for Solomon’s wife.

There was no mention of such a basin in the Tabernacle, nor were bulls used as any type of symbol, outside of animal sacrifices. Based on scripture, we do know the first plague Egypt experienced was aimed at their gods associated with water.

So this is what the LORD says: “I will show you that I am the LORD.” Look! I will strike the water of the Nile with this staff in my hand, and the river will turn to blood. The fish in it will die, and the river will stink. The Egyptians will not be able to drink any water from the Nile.'” Then the LORD said to Moses: “Tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff and raise your hand over the waters of Egypt–all its rivers, canals, ponds, and all the reservoirs. Turn all the water to blood. Everywhere in Egypt the water will turn to blood, even the water stored in wooden bowls and stone pots.'” So Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD commanded them. As Pharaoh and all of his officials watched, Aaron raised his staff and struck the water of the Nile. Suddenly, the whole river turned to blood! (Exodus 7:17-20 NLTse).

The plague included water and blood. Quite a unique combination when we think about it. The combination of blood and water was described at the cross. Was there a connection? We would have to compare key words and themes between the two stories. It seems unlikely a plague has a direct connection, or spiritual relationship to Jesus’ sacrifice. If they share a relationship, it has to be on a deep spiritual level shown in scripture.

If there is a connecting factor between the basin Solomon constructed, and the plague on the water in Egypt, the only thing connecting blood to water is the bulls. The first sacrifice at the Tabernacle was a bull.

“Present Aaron and his sons at the entrance of the Tabernacle, and wash them with water. Dress Aaron in his priestly garments–the tunic, the robe worn with the ephod, the ephod itself, and the chestpiece. Then wrap the decorative sash of the ephod around him. Place the turban on his head, and fasten the sacred medallion to the turban. Then anoint him by pouring the anointing oil over his head. Next present his sons, and dress them in their tunics. Wrap the sashes around the waists of Aaron and his sons, and put their special head coverings on them. Then the right to the priesthood will be theirs by law forever. In this way, you will ordain Aaron and his sons. “Bring the young bull to the entrance of the Tabernacle, where Aaron and his sons will lay their hands on its head. Then slaughter the bull in the LORD’s presence at the entrance of the Tabernacle. Put some of its blood on the horns of the altar with your finger, and pour out the rest at the base of the altar. Take all the fat around the internal organs, the long lobe of the liver, and the two kidneys and the fat around them, and burn it all on the altar. Then take the rest of the bull, including its hide, meat, and dung, and burn it outside the camp as a sin offering. (Exodus 29:4-14 NLTse).

The ceremony began by washing Aaron and his sons with water. They were dressed, then sacrificed a bull at the Tabernacle entrance. Blood from the bull was placed on the horns of the altar, the rest of the blood was poured at the base of the altar. Parts of the bull were removed, then burnt on the altar.

That must have been a messy job. Slaughtering a bull, removing the fat around the internal organs, the long lobe of the liver, and the two kidneys and the fat around them must have splattered some of the blood on Aaron and his sons. Those were brand new uniforms specially made for services in the courtyard and inside the Tabernacle. After confessing their sins over the head of the bull, their clothing was splattered with blood.

There is a world of difference between turning water into blood, and sacrificing a bull to consecrate the Tabernacle, Aaron, and his sons. We should avoid forcing connections where they don’t belong, which places the wrong spiritual meaning on symbols. It seems that’s what Solomon did with some of the items added to the temple. Adding or moving symbolic items obscures the original meaning and intent of those symbols.

We do see another example of Solomon going overboard on some of those items. The washbasin in the Tabernacle is not explained in great detail, but it was small enough to transport.

“Make a bronze washbasin with a bronze stand. Place it between the Tabernacle and the altar, and fill it with water. Aaron and his sons will wash their hands and feet there. They must wash with water whenever they go into the Tabernacle to appear before the LORD and when they approach the altar to burn up their special gifts to the LORD–or they will die! They must always wash their hands and feet, or they will die. This is a permanent law for Aaron and his descendants, to be observed from generation to generation.” (Exodus 30:18-21 NLTse).

Moses didn’t go into an elaborate description of the washbasin build for the Tabernacle. The description is so short, I imagine the washbasin was very simple, maybe about the size of a birdbath, and didn’t contain any fancy designs. The washbasin showed a type of humility both in its appearance, and the service it was designed for.

Aaron and his sons washed their feet and hands in the open courtyard. After entering the courtyard from the east, the high priest walked past the bronze altar, to the laver, or washbasin, washed his hands and feet, went back to the entrance to meet the next person or family waiting in line to offer their sacrifice. At the entrance of the Tabernacle, the person or family placed their hands on the animal’s head, confessed their sins, then the animal was slain. The high priest would take some of the blood to sprinkle on the altar, then pour the remaining blood onto the ground at the base of the altar. Based on the animal and type of sacrifice or offering, pasts of the animal were removed and burnt. Most of the animal was taken outside the camp and burnt. The priest received part of the sacrifice from certain offerings.

The order the high priest is dressed is rather obscure. Many believe the breastplate was worn on the outside of the robe. Moses’ description placed the breastplate over the ephod, sometimes translated girdle. In modern terms, an undergarment. It is a mystery whether the robe covered the breastplate, or the breastplate was worn over the robe. If the robe covered the breastplate, it would have protected it from blood splattered on the breastplate during the endless sacrifices performed.

“To attach the chestpiece to the ephod, make braided cords of pure gold thread. Then make two gold rings and attach them to the top corners of the chestpiece. Tie the two gold cords to the two rings on the chestpiece. Tie the other ends of the cords to the gold settings on the shoulder-pieces of the ephod. Then make two more gold rings and attach them to the inside edges of the chestpiece next to the ephod. And make two more gold rings and attach them to the front of the ephod, below the shoulder-pieces, just above the knot where the decorative sash is fastened to the ephod. Then attach the bottom rings of the chestpiece to the rings on the ephod with blue cords. This will hold the chestpiece securely to the ephod above the decorative sash. “In this way, Aaron will carry the names of the tribes of Israel on the sacred chestpiece over his heart when he goes into the Holy Place. This will be a continual reminder that he represents the people when he comes before the LORD.

(Exodus 28:22-29 NLTse)

After the high priest finished one sacrifice, he returned to the laver to wash his hands and feet. This continued throughout the day. You can imagine how bloody the water became after the first sacrifice, and those that followed. We’re not told if one of the Levites changed the water in the laver between sacrifices. But when we look at the scale of the washbasin Solomon installed, it would have been impossible to change all that water dozens, hundreds, or thousands of times a day.

We are also missing details telling us how the priest got into a washbasin fifteen feet high. Did they use a ladder, or was a set of steps and a platform erected on one side of the washbasin in the temple courtyard? We don’t know. But that brings up a new point to consider.

The washbasin had four sets of oxen facing in four directions. One set would have faced the entrance to the courtyard. That would have been east. The three oxen facing west would have faced the temple itself. If a set of steps and platform were erected for the priests to gain access to the pool, the oven would have faced a stone wall. The other set of oxen would have faced the courtyard wall on the other side.

I’ve heard a few creative interpretations for those four sets of oxen facing east, west, north, and south. I’ve heard people teaching how that represented the word going out to the world. I am not aware of any link between oxen, or bulls, and the written word. If that were true, one set of oxen could only travel as far as the steps and platform for the priests. The opposite set could only travel as far as the courtyard wall. Those facing west could travel as far as the temple. One set was facing the courtyard gates. That interpretation seems rather limited.

There seems to be another problem with a fifteen foot high pool to bath in. Exodus 20:26 tells us not to build steps to an altar. Climbing steps would show the priest’s nakedness. The same would apply to a pool to bath in.

The size of the pool indicates, the priests immersed theirs entire bodies in water. Was Solomon introducing a more complete cleansing for the priests? Did they bath with priestly robes, and the breastplate on, or did they remove their clothing? We are missing those details. Did the entrance, sides of the steps and platform have a privacy curtain? Seeing the high priest wash their hands and feet was an important object lesson for the people. Did Solomon eliminate that object lesson?

What about the blood that was washed off? Moses filled the laver himself the first time it was used. Based on what little information we have on the laver, it appears to be a one man job to empty and fill. Not so with the seven foot deep, and forty five foot wide pool. How often was the water changed? Did the size of that pool require a few changes to services conducted in the Tabernacle?

To keep Solomon’s pool water clean, it would have been more efficient for the high priest to wash before morning services began, conduct the sacrifices, then use one of the smaller basins to wash their hands and feet between sacrifices. The only other alternative would have been to skip washing between sacrifices.

We are beginning to see a difference between God’s plan, and alterations made to services in the Tabernacle and temple. Not only were items moved, and designs changed, services had to be altered to accommodate some of those changes. It was like a domino effect.

The Tabernacle was designed to teach Israel and us about the plan of salvation. One event lead to another, one symbol lead to an understanding of one part of that plan. As a whole, the Tabernacle explained the entire system and plan in perfect sequence. When one item is taken away or altered, the entire view is obscured, or lost. Change a few things, and what do you have?

Humanly speaking, whenever people see an opportunity to change something, they jump on it. We can go back as far as Cain to see how that works. Cain made a little change to God’s plan. Cain was banished. Instead of making an attempt to get right with God, Cain’s descendants made more and more changes, drifting further and further away from God.

We see the same effect today. Solomon made a few modifications to the Tabernacle. That opened the door for other people to make a few little changes here and there. Pretty soon, people lost sight of the entire message the Tabernacle carried.

People know Solomon initiated changes between the Tabernacle and temple. I have no idea how many books have been written, trying to justify those changes. The fact of the matter is, people use Solomon’s changes as an excuse to change a few other details, add a few symbols of their own to a modern church, and create a few new traditions, steps that never existed in God’s plan of salvation.

As time marches on, expect to see more dynamic changes to beliefs, services, and symbols. Many of the symbols and events in the Bible will be explained in human terms. People will have less and less to do with scripture, while placing more trust in human wisdom. I really do not get into prophecy, but one always seems to be on the forefront of my mind.

The sky was rolled up like a scroll, and all of the mountains and islands were moved from their places. Then everyone–the kings of the earth, the rulers, the generals, the wealthy, the powerful, and every slave and free person–all hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. And they cried to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to survive?” (Revelation 6:14-17 NLTse).

At times mountains and hills are associated with laws, religion, and worship in scripture.

This is a vision that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem: In the last days, the mountain of the LORD’s house will be the highest of all– the most important place on earth. It will be raised above the other hills, and people from all over the world will stream there to worship. People from many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of Jacob’s God. There he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” For the LORD’s teaching will go out from Zion; his word will go out from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:1-3 NLTse)

In the last days, the mountain of the LORD’s house will be the highest of all– the most important place on earth. It will be raised above the other hills, and people from all over the world will stream there to worship. People from many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of Jacob’s God. There he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” For the LORD’s teaching will go out from Zion; his word will go out from Jerusalem. (Micah 4:1-2 NLTse)

“When you drive out the nations that live there, you must destroy all the places where they worship their gods–high on the mountains, up on the hills, and under every green tree. (Deuteronomy 12:2 NLTse)

I trust in the LORD for protection. So why do you say to me, “Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety! (Psalms 11:1 NLTse)

How great is the LORD, how deserving of praise, in the city of our God, which sits on his holy mountain! It is high and magnificent; the whole earth rejoices to see it! Mount Zion, the holy mountain, is the city of the great King! (Psalms 48:1-2 NLTse)

Give your love of justice to the king, O God, and righteousness to the king’s son. Help him judge your people in the right way; let the poor always be treated fairly. May the mountains yield prosperity for all, and may the hills be fruitful. (Psalms 72:1-3 NLTse)

Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The LORD has spoken!” (Isaiah 40:3-5 NLTse)

Your gods are the smooth stones in the valleys. You worship them with liquid offerings and grain offerings. They, not I, are your inheritance. Do you think all this makes me happy? You have committed adultery on every high mountain. There you have worshiped idols and have been unfaithful to me. You have put pagan symbols on your doorposts and behind your doors. You have left me and climbed into bed with these detestable gods. You have committed yourselves to them. You love to look at their naked bodies. (Isaiah 57:6-8 NLTse)

Revelation chapter 6 uses mountains and hills as symbols When Jesus returns, people will turn to their leaders asking why they were never told the truth. Few people want to take responsibility for their own destiny. People want so called experts to study for them, then give the short, simple explanations. What people don’t realize is, some of those teachers are wrapped up in the same attitude Cain’s descendants experienced. Because someone changed a little bit of a law, that gives them the right to change a few other laws.

When Jesus returns, He will show how useless those man made laws are, and how they led people away from any type of meaningful relationship with Him and God. People won’t know why they were not saved. In a last ditch effort to find answers, they will turn to the only place they expect to look for answers, their religious leaders. Jesus explained that situation when He told a series of parables beginning with, “You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected. A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns.” (Matthew 24:44-47 NLTse).

What does it mean to be a wise and faithful servant? What does it take to become a wise and faithful servant? Did Jesus ever send His disciples to anyone else to learn? There is only one other source Jesus told His disciples to learn from. “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me.” (John 16:13-14 NLTse). Of course that included Himself, and His Father, who work in unison to bring salvation to anyone who wants to learn the truth.

But what about all those people who never knew God, never heard about Jesus, or didn’t accept the Spirit? We’re not judging this world. It would be a sin for us to guess, or teach any man made concept on how the judgment process works. Does that include those hundreds of churches claiming salvation comes from membership in their church, and they are some sort of chosen last day church or remnant? We can’t be sure about any detail in the judgment process. But we do know, people will be lost. And we know, some of those people will turn to their religious leaders for an explanation. But all they will receive is more excuses. Look at the parables in Matthew chapter 25 while thinking about what a wise and faithful servant is, and how they are defined in each of those parables. Those parables contain a number of contrasts. Those contrasts should be easy to see. Then compare those contrasts, the good with the good, and bad with the bad. Learning to compare a series of parables can open a new avenue of Bible Study.

Posted in Advanced Studies, Bible Study Methods Explained, Bible Study with Context, Christian Books, Inductive Studies, Kings and Chronicles, Simple Studies, Tabernacle | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Solomon Began Construction on the Temple 2 Chronicles 3

Posted by Ez1 Realty on November 23, 2017

2 Chronicles 3:1-9 NLTse (1) So Solomon began to build the Temple of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to David, his father. The Temple was built on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the site that David had selected. (2) The construction began in midspring, during the fourth year of Solomon’s reign. (3) These are the dimensions Solomon used for the foundation of the Temple of God (using the old standard of measurement). It was 90 feet long and 30 feet wide. (4) The entry room at the front of the Temple was 30 feet wide, running across the entire width of the Temple, and 30 feet high. He overlaid the inside with pure gold. (5) He paneled the main room of the Temple with cypress wood, overlaid it with fine gold, and decorated it with carvings of palm trees and chains. (6) He decorated the walls of the Temple with beautiful jewels and with gold from the land of Parvaim. (7) He overlaid the beams, thresholds, walls, and doors throughout the Temple with gold, and he carved figures of cherubim on the walls. (8) He made the Most Holy Place 30 feet wide, corresponding to the width of the Temple, and 30 feet deep. He overlaid its interior with 23 tons of fine gold. (9) The gold nails that were used weighed 20 ounces each. He also overlaid the walls of the upper rooms with gold.

It took over four years for Solomon to begin construction on the temple. We’re not told what the delay was, but if you ever built a house, you’ll find out what delays are. Many of those delays concern permits, filing plans, and general communication with government Since Solomon was the government, that couldn’t have been the problem. It may have taken four years to gather enough material to begin the project. With about 150,000 common laborers on the job, it is a little hard to imagine taking four years to cut enough wood and stone to begin such a project. What were those delays?

One of the only reasons for such a delay could have been design changes. Based on the fact the site was already chosen for the temple showed how David laid the foundation so to speak, That was the site and design, but how many wives did Solomon marry over those four years? And how many of them wanted to interject a few ideas and changes into the design Solomon received from his father?

Another reason may have been a long list of constant distractions. The inability to focus. Have you ever been bombarded by a million thoughts, finding it impossible to focus on a single subject or goal? That is a distraction the enemy loves to use, and uses it with a great deal of success. When you have a hundred things on your mind, you never seem to finish to accomplish anything. You never seem to move forward. Whatever you work on is incomplete. It feels like your in a war giving up ground. You fight to go forward, but every time you do, something happens to put you further back, adding to that list of problems on your mind. It seems like a never ending battle.

Situations like that make you almost ineffective in just about every area. You can’t seem to do anything right, and often feel like giving up. But you can’t. So you try and try to focus, but that seems almost impossible, as if you lost all control over your mind.

We often call that multitasking. Doing many things at the same time. People pride themselves on the ability to multitask. But no one can really do two things at once beyond eating or drinking, while carrying on a conversation, or working on a computer, or handling another menial task. People can’t even eat and drink at the same time. Your body won’t allow it. The same is true with any task. All anyone can do is one task at a time, then go onto the next. When people face multiple tasks, they have no choice but to spend, or waste time planning which to do first, and figure out an order to work on the others. When we boil down the situation, it turns out to be a time consuming endeavor to face multiple tasks.

That is especially true when we pray. Try to pray with a million things on your mind and most times all you get is no where. Having dozens of details on your mind interferes with direct communication with God. People forget what to pray about, they often miss details, linger on some subjects while quickly skimming over others. In a sense, they take control of the entire conversation with God deciding what is important, and what can wait. How can you approach the God of the Universe with an attitude like that?

When you ask a hundred questions, how is God supposed to answer when we can’t remember the order we fired off the questions? It is impossible. Do we expect God to choose which questions to answer, and begin by explaining which situation God is guiding us on? Do we often bring up a situation, then give God a choice of courses to follow? That happens whenever we have too many things on our mind. The only thing we are good at multitasking on is confusion.

We have to clear our minds when we pray, which just happens to be one detail eastern religions have exploited. That type of inner being religion where the power comes from within through the right type of meditation, which always begins with clearing the mind. The difference is, God’s power doesn’t come from within us. God’s power and answers begin in Heaven, the place of perfect peace and order. Eastern religions have a process to reach that state of perfection. Christianity should know, God is already in the perfect atmosphere, can, and will provide the perfect answers, if we know how to listen.

Look at scripture. Look where messages originated. Not from some type of inner meditation. Messages come from Heaven, directly from God’s throne in the form of an audible voice, vision, or instructions from an angel. God verifies messages. In the Old Testament, prophets were often told about people they would meet, and the type of reception they would receive.

God knew the enemy would work on a hundred counterfeits focusing on communication. So God developed a set of rules, and patterns to follow. Verification is one of those patterns. For us in the modern age, God often uses His Word, the Bible to confirm messages. People may read something, then later in prayer see how that story is actually the answer they are looking for. Other times, scripture follows events in a day. Something happened during the day, people go home, open the Bible and find what they are reading has a direct bearing on what happened that day.

Verification can reveal itself through key words, events, and settings in scripture. The strange thing about it is, you read that part of scripture a hundred times, but you never saw it that way before. Open your eyes. Most times you faced the same problem you’re facing today, but when you listen to God, you find a new, more effective way of solving that problem. What do you expect when the answers come from Heaven?

People tend to shun communication with God based on what they’ve been taught. Preachers who never studied eastern religions teach lessons based on the incomplete information they have. To make up for their lack of knowledge, they mix in what they know about prayer, another subject they are ill equipped to teach. Mixing two incomplete explanations, they present something with a little bit of truth, but will never amount to a message from Heaven.

Prayer has to be personal with God. The only common details all people should share is to remain focused. Ask one question at a time, and wait for an answer. If you don’t hear God’s answer, move onto the next question. When you land on a subject God wants to teach about, you’ll know it. You’ll know it by the way perfect harmony pours down from Heaven. You can’t help but admit, you never would have thought about that answer yourself. More often than not, scripture, and a host of stories in scripture will accompany the answer is such and order, it will be difficult to keep up, but you’ll see exactly how each story fits into your situation. You made contact with God, admitted the answer is not from some hidden power inside you, and your now on your way to having that relationship with God people know exists, but few are willing to seek.

Solomon reached that level. Solomon had a million problems on his mind, but eventually focused on one. Solomon admitted he knew nothing, and was ill equipped to run the nation. That opened the door for God to answer. It wasn’t recorded as a long conversation, but God can and will fill our minds with dozens of stories and lessons. That puts us in the position to do something with that knowledge, or let it go to waste. In a few days we’ll forget most of the stories God told us to look into. If we open scripture and investigate the information, God’s Spirit will be with us to refresh our memories and bring us more. If we fail to take the logical step forward, what is God supposed to do with us? All He can do is wait for us to get ready to listen again. When God gives us information to work on, and we want to be lazy, what will happen? Is God going to waste time giving a prophet messages, then watch him fail at delivering those messages? What do you think? Will God go back to that prophet, or is God going to move onto the next person?

Saul was given the gift of prophecy. How did he use it? Saul wanted to rely on Samuel to talk to God, then fill him in on the details. Saul receives a gift, but like many Christians today, failed to use the gifts he received. The same thing happened to Israel when they asked Moses to talk to God for them. An entire nation was freed from slavery, but only a few actually wanted to leave bondage behind.

David and Solomon also received the gift of prophecy. Both wrote books found in the Bible, so both were prophets. Both talked, and listened to God, so both were prophets. Both were concerned about leading people to God. And like all people, David and Solomon had their faults.

We have to get off the worldly definition of a prophet, which is someone who tells us what is going to happen in the future, and how the world is doing to end. Daniel and Moses wrote about those type of people. They called them fortune tellers, soothsayers, and a few other names, but they never referred to those people as prophets of priests. Other stories told us about kings who had to choose between real and false prophets. I’m not sure why we have stories like that with people called prophets, who claim they talked with God, but didn’t. Maybe it is to warn us, there will be people like that. Of course their predictions never came true. If people read scripture, and believed that, we would have a lot fewer prophets on TV, radio, and the Internet today.

When it comes to talking to God, it has to be personal. Most Christians say they know how the prophets God used as authors added, or wrote with a bit of their own personality. Since we are learning about scripture, why not take that a bit further. If God worked with a number of prophets on their own personal level, wouldn’t the same be true about prayer? We have dozens of examples of prayer in scripture. Did Daniel, David, Samuel’s mother, Jesus’s mother, Solomon, and Samson all pray the same? No they didn’t. So why do people buy books, watch videos, or ask preachers how to pray? Moses could hardly talk to God when they first met. But God worked with him. They wound up having a fabulous relationship. Moses understood a lot more about God than he was able to record. The same is true with Daniel, and all the other people who have prayers recorded in scripture. The same can be true with you.

We only know a little about Solomon. Now we are looking at a four year delay he faced. Based on the little we do know, we can see how we face some of the same delays. Of course Solomon had that problem with all those women and wives. That can be a major distraction on its own, but try running a country with those types of distractions. We can see how Satan saw what Solomon had, and wanted to knock him to the ground. To a degree, Satan had his way with Saul, and got David to slip up from time to time, so why wouldn’t Satan attack Solomon? I’ll bet you’re going to admit, Satan is working hard to get you to slip.

There is a lesson to see when we look at the construction process. The foundation is laid. People love to preach about that. What about the rest of the process through completion? There are a truck load of lessons throughout the process. What about those common laborers working on the trees and stones? Not one name is mentioned. But the temple would have never been built without them. Once the stone walls were up, how did they attach boards to stone walls? Did you ever remodel a basement? Wooden studs, or boards are placed at about two or four foot intervals, fastened to the concrete walls with special nails or glued. Those are covered with the final finished surface. In the case of the temple, that would have been elaborate woodwork.

Things happen while a building goes through different phases of construction. People take a tour and come up with all kinds of changes. Some people have vision and can see the finished product. Other people see an unfinished product, and get all shaken up. Both classes are prone to make changes. That requires more changes, which may go on for quite some time.

Prayer can be like that. People receive an answer, but don’t understand, or can’t see the finished product. They want to make a few changes, which leads to more changes, and what happens then? When we take a step back to realize, answers to prayer come from Heaven, and we want to make a few changes, what do we expect to happen?

Solomon received an answer to prayer, but had no way of knowing all the details from beginning to end. Did Solomon want to make a few changes along the way? Did God give Solomon a few gifts, then let him continue unsupervised? Is that the way prayer and gifts work?

What happens when God gives us spiritual gifts? Are we on our own from that point forward, or are we really entering into a partnership with God?

Let’s imagine for a moment, we get the opportunity of a lifetime. A friend invested a great deal of time planning and building a business. He buys a lot, constructs a building, sets in all the equipment, lighting, offices, washrooms, security systems, work areas, safety features, trucking docks, windows, and a host of other details. More than we are able to describe. You get a call one day. Your friend remembers your work ethic, and you are one of the few people he can really trust. You don’t have all the skills to manage part of the company, but your friend knows how dedicated you are, and how fast you learn. The job is exactly what you wanted, more than you ever prayed for. What are you going to do for your friend? Are you going to show up on the first day and try to run everything yourself with no training and supervision? What about when God started you out on a personal ministry? Did you accept God’s offer, then decide to take over all the details? To a certain degree, that’s what Solomon did. The worst part of that is, some people preach about Solomon as if he had every right to take God’s gifts and do whatever he wanted to do with them. Solomon was a king, and his actions and decisions should not be questioned.

Posted in Advanced Studies, Bible Study Methods Explained, Bible Study with Context, Christian Books, Praying, Tabernacle | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Solomon at the Tabernacle 2 Chronicles 1

Posted by Ez1 Realty on November 18, 2017

2 Chronicles 1:1-6 NLTse (1) Solomon son of David took firm control of his kingdom, for the LORD his God was with him and made him very powerful. (2) Solomon called together all the leaders of Israel–the generals and captains of the army, the judges, and all the political and clan leaders. (3) Then he led the entire assembly to the place of worship in Gibeon, for God’s Tabernacle was located there. (This was the Tabernacle that Moses, the LORD’s servant, had made in the wilderness.) (4) David had already moved the Ark of God from Kiriath-jearim to the tent he had prepared for it in Jerusalem. (5) But the bronze altar made by Bezalel son of Uri and grandson of Hur was there at Gibeon in front of the Tabernacle of the LORD. So Solomon and the people gathered in front of it to consult the LORD. (6) There in front of the Tabernacle, Solomon went up to the bronze altar in the LORD’s presence and sacrificed 1,000 burnt offerings on it.

Here we see Solomon at the Tabernacle. The author pointed out, the Tabernacle was still in Gibeon, and the bronze alter built by Moses was still in the courtyard. David already moved the Ark to the tent he prepared in Jerusalem. But what about the other articles inside the Tabernacle courtyard and tent?

It seems rather strange when you think about it. What were the priests in Gibeon sacrificing to when the Ark was in Jerusalem? Only once a year the high priest took blood into the Most Holy, and sprinkled it on the Ark. But how could they conduct that service if the Ark was in another city?

Aaron must take from the community of Israel two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. “Aaron will present his own bull as a sin offering to purify himself and his family, making them right with the LORD. Then he must take the two male goats and present them to the LORD at the entrance of the Tabernacle. He is to cast sacred lots to determine which goat will be reserved as an offering to the LORD and which will carry the sins of the people to the wilderness of Azazel. Aaron will then present as a sin offering the goat chosen by lot for the LORD. This is a permanent law for you, to purify the people of Israel from their sins, making them right with the LORD once each year.” Moses followed all these instructions exactly as the LORD had commanded him. (Leviticus 16: 5-9, 34 NLTse).

That was a rather obscure ceremony, but one of the most important. That ceremony pointed to one of the most important ministries Jesus conducted in the Heavenly Sanctuary. The event in the Heavenly Sanctuary is explained in the Book of Hebrews.

So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. With his own blood–not the blood of goats and calves–he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever. Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant. (Hebrews 9:11-15 NLTse).

Hebrews explained how Christ as High Priest ministers over all the good things to come. The once a year ceremony recorded by Moses pointed to a change in Heaven. Not a yearly change, but that yearly ceremony pointed to a one time event in Heaven. Hebrews explained why. The systems and symbols in the Tabernacle were conducted, maintained, understood, and explained by imperfect men. Few Christians look at or examine that ceremony in Leviticus chapter 16, or compare it to Hebrews chapter 9.

There was a particular time Jesus entered the Heavenly Sanctuary, to serve a particular purpose. The book of Hebrews explained why Christ entered the Heavenly Sanctuary. With his own blood–not the blood of goats and calves–he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever. What does that actually mean? When we think of Christ’s blood, what purpose does that blood serve? Most Christians agree, Christ shed His blood to forgive the sins of this world. Since Hebrews defined Christ’s entry into the Heavenly Sanctuary as a one time event, to secure our redemption, once and for all, we have to make sure we know what the word redemption means.

REDEMPTION G3085 λύτρωσις lutrōsis loo’-tro-sis

From G3084; a ransoming (figuratively): – + redeemed, redemption.

The word ransom tells us a price had to be paid for our sins. That is pretty basic Christianity, but few people give it the thought and consideration it deserves. When we look at separating the Ark, and the law it contained from the sacrificial alter, we can’t help but see a light set upon mistakes Christianity made, and continues to make today. In modern Christianity, we have dozens of interpretations to Christ’s ministry in Heaven. We could go on for days listing all the modern day beliefs. As a whole, mankind has tried to turn the ransom Jesus paid into a cliché.

Is it right to separate the Ark, and the Law it contains from the sacrificial altar? Are we supposed to continue to follow that tradition, or modify it into an easier way to understand designed to make people feel good about themselves, and their religion? Or are we supposed to get back to the basics, look into the original plan, compare the symbols with the explanations provided in scripture, then determine what beliefs are man made substitutes, traditions, and doctrines? There has to be a way to find out exactly what God’s original plan was.

Many modern, wannabe prophets stick to so many details outside the spectrum of scripture, they wouldn’t know truth if it ran them over, walked into their church, or prayer meeting. What is this subject we are looking at? If Jesus’ ministry in Heaven is not recorded as prophecy, what is prophecy? But how many people today study it like a prophecy, or put as much time into prophecies about Jesus as they put into trying to guess what will happen in this world tomorrow?

The fact of the matter is, Jesus’ ministry, here on earth, and in Heaven has been recorded as prophecy. According to the law of context, every recorded prophecy has a recorded fulfillment. To examine this concept of what I refer to as parallel chapters, we have to compare both introductions to verify both chapters are covering the same subject.

Leviticus 16:1-4 NLTse The LORD spoke to Moses after the death of Aaron’s two sons, who died after they entered the LORD’s presence and burned the wrong kind of fire before him. (2) The LORD said to Moses, “Warn your brother, Aaron, not to enter the Most Holy Place behind the inner curtain whenever he chooses; if he does, he will die. For the Ark’s cover–the place of atonement–is there, and I myself am present in the cloud above the atonement cover. (3) “When Aaron enters the sanctuary area, he must follow these instructions fully. He must bring a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. (4) He must put on his linen tunic and the linen undergarments worn next to his body. He must tie the linen sash around his waist and put the linen turban on his head. These are sacred garments, so he must bathe himself in water before he puts them on.

Hebrews 9:1-8 NLTse That first covenant between God and Israel had regulations for worship and a place of worship here on earth. (2) There were two rooms in that Tabernacle. In the first room were a lampstand, a table, and sacred loaves of bread on the table. This room was called the Holy Place. (3) Then there was a curtain, and behind the curtain was the second room called the Most Holy Place. (4) In that room were a gold incense altar and a wooden chest called the Ark of the Covenant, which was covered with gold on all sides. Inside the Ark were a gold jar containing manna, Aaron’s staff that sprouted leaves, and the stone tablets of the covenant. (5) Above the Ark were the cherubim of divine glory, whose wings stretched out over the Ark’s cover, the place of atonement. But we cannot explain these things in detail now. (6) When these things were all in place, the priests regularly entered the first room as they performed their religious duties. (7) But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place, and only once a year. And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. (8) By these regulations the Holy Spirit revealed that the entrance to the Most Holy Place was not freely open as long as the Tabernacle and the system it represented were still in use.

Comparing the two chapters confirms, both are covering the subject centered on entering the Most Holy compartment in the Tabernacle, and Heavenly Sanctuary. Inside the Most Holy room is where the Ark of the Covenant is located. The introductions to these two chapters confirms beyond any shadow of doubt, they are explaining the same subject.

To make certain we are looking at what used to be refered to as parallel chapters, we also compare summations, or the last few verses in the two chapters.

Leviticus 16:30-34 NLTse (30) On that day offerings of purification will be made for you, and you will be purified in the LORD’s presence from all your sins. (31) It will be a Sabbath day of complete rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. This is a permanent law for you. (32) In future generations, the purification ceremony will be performed by the priest who has been anointed and ordained to serve as high priest in place of his ancestor Aaron. He will put on the holy linen garments (33) and purify the Most Holy Place, the Tabernacle, the altar, the priests, and the entire congregation. (34) This is a permanent law for you, to purify the people of Israel from their sins, making them right with the LORD once each year.” Moses followed all these instructions exactly as the LORD had commanded him.

Hebrews 9:24-28 NLTse For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. (25) And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal. (26) If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice. (27) And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, (28) so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.

The summations verify these two chapters are explaining the same subject. We now have a prophecy and its recorded fulfillment in our presence. Now what do we do with them? Another rule of context is perfectly consistent throughout scripture. When we locate and combine parallel chapters, that is to study them together, the information is not doubled, like common man would think, but multiplied by a much higher factor, magnified beyond what man could hope to achieve through uninspired thinking, teaching, and writing.

It does is little good to locate and identify parallel chapters if we don’t compare and study those chapters as a whole. Allow me to bring up an example of tradition and how it rears its ugly head in Christianity.

What are the most important days in Christianity? Most people would answer Christmas and Easter, which of course is the observance of Christ’s birthday here on earth, and His resurrection. As A child who hadn’t read a single verse in the Bible, I had to ask why people celebrate those two holidays by eating ham. Pigs are unclean animals. How do you honor Christ by consuming an unclean animal? Where did that tradition come from? From Satan of course.

What about that day Christ entered the MOST HOLY In Heaven? Why don’t we observe that day? Wouldn’t that day be as important as a birthday, or Jesus’ resurrection? What good would Jesus’ resurrection be if He didn’t eventually step into the presence of God’s Law in Heaven to cover that Law with His own blood?

The interesting thing is, Christians claim there is no way for us to know exactly what day Christ was born. We are assured of the exact date Christ rose from the grave. What about the day Christ entered the Most Holy Room in the Heavenly Sanctuary? Do we know that day, and is the information in the Bible confirming that date?

To find the exact day of Jesus’ resurrection, all we need to do is find the date Passover occurred on the Sabbath, and match it up with the list of kings recorded in scripture. That seems like a rather easy task. But how many people know how to go about verifying what we are told to believe?

Finding the exact date Jesus entered the Heavenly Sanctuary is a bit more involved. But it is in scripture. In the mid 1800’s William Miller and a handful of other people took on the task of conducting a chronological study of a series of dates and events that led to the day Jesus entered the Most Holy to cleanse the Heavenly Sanctuary foretold by the yearly ceremony recorded by Moses, and explained in Hebrews. You can read more about that study on your own. The only problem Miller had was, he looked at the event as the cleansing of the earth, not the Sanctuary in Heaven. The date was correct, but his interpretation of what was cleansed was not correct.

That misinterpretation should have taught us a lesson. Not to allow one detail to slip through without proper verification. In Miller’s case, everyone involved forgot to compare scripture about the cleansing with the introduction of the chapter, that clearly identified the Heavenly Sanctuary.

My main intent is to explain a series of Bible Study methods so people can test any Bible Study over the past two thousand years. And to find the answer to the question raised in 2 Chronicles chapter 1, why the Ark was removed from the Tabernacle. The introduction of a book in scripture sets the theme for the entire book. This seems rather unusual for a book such as Chronicles to cover a subject like the separation of the Ark from the Tabernacle. But what is the main theme in 2 Chronicles? What happened in the temple from the reign of one king to another? How did they use the temple, and how did the temple vacillate from worship of God to a variety of Pagan gods? How did the removal of the Ark from the Tabernacle contribute to those changes, and how does that relate to Christianity today?

Looking at the introductions to Leviticus chapter 16 and Hebrews chapter 9, we’ll look at how the information is magnified. The first sentence in Leviticus 16 is a rather strange way to introduce a new subject. The LORD spoke to Moses after the death of Aaron’s two sons, who died after they entered the LORD’s presence and burned the wrong kind of fire before him. What does this tell us? On the physical level we see the loss of a good portion of the priesthood at that particular time. Why did two of Aaron’s sons loose their lives? The Bible tells us, they offered the wrong type of fire in the LORD’S presence. What does that fire represent? A smart Bible student allows the chapter at hand to answer every question on a symbol. That eliminates all human guess work.

In this case, we see how this chapter deals with the cleansing, or purification of the Tabernacle, in particular, the MOST HOLY room. Fire is used for purification in other stories in scripture, and fits in this story in no other way but to purify. The death of Aaron’s sons showed, the right type of fire provides the right purification. There must be a wrong type of fire, Since there is reality no difference in physical fires, other than fuel and temperature, the death of Aaron’s sons, and the fire involved must lead to a spiritual lesson.

Aaron, the high priest was warned not to enter the MOST HOLY any time he wished, but to follow a specific process once a year. It was a rather long, detailed ceremony Aaron had to follow. If he didn’t, Aaron, and all the high priests after him ran the risk of meeting the same fate his sons met with.

How does that apply to Jesus’ ministry in Heaven? Jesus had to follow a specific process to present Himself, and His blood. Jesus lived a sinless life on earth by following all of God’s laws. It makes sense for Jesus to continue that trend in Heaven.

The bull as usual was meant to remind Aaron of that golden calf, the false god he fabricated in the wilderness. The idea of that calf was borrowed from concepts and religious services learned in Egypt. That is another warning, related to the lesson about the wrong type of fire offered in God’s presence. Bible authors presented similar lessons in a variety of ways.

The services Aaron performed were recorded in great detail. That detail included how the high priest was dressed. When we study the Sanctuary, and Christ’s ministry, we find Christ dressed in particular ways. Other authors went to great lengths to record specific details. Those details help us determine what phase of ministry the author is describing. Like outdoor scenes, we can understand the season of Christ’s ministry based on what Jesus was wearing in each story.

Hebrews chapter 9 begins by explaining, one ministry passed away, and was replaced by a better, in fact perfect ministry. That tells us, mankind has little to nothing to do with that particular ministry, outside of sitting still and learning. Which may be the most difficult task for some people. When we compare that fact to warnings in Leviticus chapter 16, we see how serious this subject is.

Hebrews chapter 9 is constructed in a rather obscure fashion. The chapter as a whole describes the Heavenly Sanctuary, but begins by describing the Tabernacle Moses constructed. The author went into elaborate details about what the Ark contained. Are items once found in the Ark, housed inside the Tabernacle, now in Heaven? What does Aaron’s rod and the gold jar containing manna represent? Again, we will let the chapter explain their spiritual interpretations. We have to keep in mind, the author wrote, “we cannot explain these things in detail now.”

We have another detail to consider. By these regulations the Holy Spirit revealed that the entrance to the Most Holy Place was not freely open as long as the Tabernacle and the system it represented were still in use. What time frame does that point to? Since many of those details could not be understood until the New Testament was completed, we have to assume the author was not pointing to the time period when David removed the Ark from the Tabernacle.

One item in the Tabernacle was moved in the book of Hebrews. Place the incense altar just outside the inner curtain that shields the Ark of the Covenant, in front of the Ark’s cover–the place of atonement–that covers the tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant. I will meet with you there. “Every morning when Aaron maintains the lamps, he must burn fragrant incense on the altar. And each evening when he lights the lamps, he must again burn incense in the LORD’s presence. This must be done from generation to generation. Do not offer any unholy incense on this altar, or any burnt offerings, grain offerings, or liquid offerings. (Exodus 30:6-9 NLTse).

Originally, the incense alter was placed outside the curtain separating the Holy from the Most Holy room. When Jesus began His Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary, the incense alter was placed inside the Most Holy room in the presence of God and the Ark. Why is that detail important?

Since it is our job to sit, listen, observe, and learn, that had to be represented by something. What better that the incense alter representing the prayers of the saints? This also emphasizes the point prayers originate in Heaven. Most people teach, prayers originate on earth, and go up into Heaven. But where does that incense burnt in the altar in Heaven come from, Heaven or earth?

Looking at the summations, a few details jump out. The cleansing of the Tabernacle was a permanent law. Does that mean it ended, and we can forget all about it at some future date? Let’s get serious. The Tabernacle is gone. Its been gone for generations. No one knows what happened to it. All we have to study the Tabernacle is a handful of books Moses wrote, and of course the Book of Hebrews. At best, we have a dim view at what the Tabernacle actually looked like. We have a general concept of the design, but not enough technical information to recreate an exact replica. We also know the Tabernacle Moses build was an exact replica of the Sanctuary he was shown in Heaven. Or at least the pattern God wanted Moses to build.

Hence all those warnings about strange fire in the Tabernacle point to misrepresenting the Heavenly Sanctuary. We know how serious those warnings are when we look at the most predominant word repeated at the end of Leviticus chapter 16, purification.

Take any example you can think of. If you have exact instructions to purify anything, a building, garment, or life, and skip a few steps in those instructions, do you have perfect purification? Based on the subject those two chapters cover, we know how serious the process of purification is.

There are two things purified in Heaven, the Sanctuary, and us from our sins. Both have to be perfectly purified. When we look at the purification of the Tabernacle as a permanent law, but we don’t have the Ark, or the Law, what is that pointing to? Go back to the incense altar which is now placed in the Most Holy room. The physical Tabernacle has moved from a physical to a spiritual level. We now moved from the passive role of observance, to an active role of observance by moving from the age when details could not be explained, to the age when we can, and should understand those symbols and their meaning. Purification also points to our understanding of the Heavenly Sanctuary. We can’t afford to teach false and misleading concepts about the Heavenly Sanctuary. That is the unholy fire we should never even think of offering to God.

The once a year ritual has been replaced by the single event when Christ entered the MOST HOLY compartment in Heaven. Christ didn’t have to keep returning to earth, suffering on the cross, dying, being resurrected again and again every time someone sinned. Hebrews explained exactly why Christ entered into the MOST HOLY in Heaven.

But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice. And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.

There are four details associated with the word once at the close of Hebrews chapter 9. Christ appearing in the MOST HOLY compartment, offering His blood as a ransom payment for sins, people dying only once, and judgment. Each of those happens only once.

We have no choice but to consider each of those as a whole. We cannot allow ourselves to fall for misleading interpretations that separate one item in order to introduce man made interpretations. There is one time Christ will enter the MOST HOLY, one time He will offer His blood to cover the law for us, one time people will face death before the judgment, and one time we will all be judged. Jesus entered the MOST HOLY compartment in Heaven to begin the judgment process.

Posted in Advanced Studies, Bible Study Methods Explained, Christian Books, Tabernacle | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

End of David’s Reign

Posted by Ez1 Realty on November 11, 2017

1 Chronicles 29:26-30 NLTse (26) So David son of Jesse reigned over all Israel. (27) He reigned over Israel for forty years, seven of them in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. (28) He died at a ripe old age, having enjoyed long life, wealth, and honor. Then his son Solomon ruled in his place. (29) All the events of King David’s reign, from beginning to end, are written in The Record of Samuel the Seer, The Record of Nathan the Prophet, and The Record of Gad the Seer. (30) These accounts include the mighty deeds of his reign and everything that happened to him and to Israel and to all the surrounding kingdoms.

David was the first king in Israel to assign a son to succeed him. That was the beginning of a new tradition in Israel, to be more like the world. It also eliminated God’s role in choosing the next king. Most kings had a number of sons. When we look back, Jesse had a number of sons, but God chose only one, David the youngest and most unlikely choice. That should have taught Israel a lesson, especially David.

As time went on, that tradition was changed from time to time. Usually the king died, and the people, or some committee chose the next king. That tradition found its way into Christianity. Denominations modified that method of choosing kings, and use their modified traditions to choose leaders. Some denominations merged a democratic type of voting system with the tradition of men choosing leaders shown in scripture to choose their leaders. In the long run, most denominations found ways of keeping God out of the process of choosing and appointing leaders.

To calm themselves, some denominations went as far as creating their own elaborate anointment services. A public show of their superiority and power. A committee chooses a new leader, so why not create a new ceremony to serve as a public announcement? None of which is found in scripture, but people look at those procedures as tradition. Which in most cases is held as sacred as scripture itself.

When I look at the mixture described in Revelation, I wonder if that concoction is describing the almost uncountable ways man mixed tradition with scripture.

One of the seven angels who had poured out the seven bowls came over and spoke to me. “Come with me,” he said, “and I will show you the judgment that is going to come on the great prostitute, who rules over many waters. The kings of the world have committed adultery with her, and the people who belong to this world have been made drunk by the wine of her immorality.” So the angel took me in the Spirit into the wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that had seven heads and ten horns, and blasphemies against God were written all over it. The woman wore purple and scarlet clothing and beautiful jewelry made of gold and precious gems and pearls. In her hand she held a gold goblet full of obscenities and the impurities of her immorality. A mysterious name was written on her forehead: “Babylon the Great, Mother of All Prostitutes and Obscenities in the World.” I could see that she was drunk–drunk with the blood of God’s holy people who were witnesses for Jesus. I stared at her in complete amazement. “Why are you so amazed?” the angel asked. “I will tell you the mystery of this woman and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns on which she sits. (Revelation 17:1-7 NLTse).

Often times the symbols of adultery and drunkenness point to the same spiritual attribute. Adultery often points to multiple relationships. Drunkenness is achieved after numerous drinks. Combining the two symbols tells us, this world, or that great prostitute will not make one major mistake, like some people like to teach, but a series of mistakes.

Blasphemies, obscenities, impurities, and immorality are key words pointing out more than one mistake. How people interpret this message as a single delusion is beyond me. Scripture clearly shows us this world will fall for, or be lead to a series to mistakes.

Satan is not going to trust a single person, or a group of people as a single entity dedicated to misleading this world. Satan spreads out his deceptions in as many brands and flavors as he can. Satan takes a great amount of pride when he introduces one temptation, then sees people modifying it to suit their needs and desires. In other words, watching people run and multiple his suggestions.

Satan learned that trick in the garden. He got Eve to eat the fruit, then sat back and watched the story unfold as Eve went beyond the call of duty to tempt Adam. Satan couldn’t believe how things worked out much better than he planned.

All Satan has to do is introduce a new tradition, and people run with it. Satan exalts himself when he watches people meet in committee rooms to discuss how to change and modify a few traditions, to personalize them just a little. Satan knows, those modified traditions will branch out into countless other traditions.

People love to take a little scripture, mix it in with a little tradition, add in a few of their own ideas, and simmer it in a committee room for hours. Pride is the most consistent ingredient in the mixture. Pride is the ingredient that causes blindness.

Like anointing kings, new traditions are introduced in much the same way. A new tradition needs an introduction, and a type of anointing. As long as people see a lot of pomp and circumstance introducing new traditions, they must be the right choice. Traditions are dressed up — much like that whore is described in Revelation. The only problem is, each denomination insists they have all the right traditions, and all the other denominations are the prostitute. Or in most cases, tradition points to the worst example of Christianity, the most controlling denomination they can find, exaggerate a few points, then what happens? They identified the prostitute, and everyone feels safe.

In general, shouldn’t common sense tell us, no matter how small changes to scripture may be, or what little parts are borrowed to create and support new traditions, they are nothing more than man made fabrications that will eventually lead people astray to one extent or another? Who has the right to take scripture, slice and dice it up, take out whatever fits their concepts, determine what subjects matter, and which are in the past, then broadcast their concepts, traditions, and man made doctrines throughout the world, and call that the Gospel?

David mixed a bit of scripture with new concepts. People took bits and pieces of what David did, then went a step further. The next generation took that and went out another step. Eventually, most of the world lost sight of God’s original decrees and lessons and rallied around a new, modern, and what is referred to as an easier way to understand the concept of God. For what? Unless people are willing to look at man made traditions, and trace them to their origin, how will they ever be able to judge the original from the counterfeit? But who does that? People prefer to assume leaders they appointed did the job for them. But what happens when leaders are appointed via man made traditions? In that case, one tradition leads to another, and another, spreading like a cancer until the body cannot remember what it feels to be healthy.

Posted in Advanced Studies, Christian Books, Simple Studies, Tabernacle | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

David’s Preparations for the Temple 1 Chronicles 22

Posted by Ez1 Realty on November 5, 2017

1 Chronicles 22:1-4 NLTse (1) Then David said, “This will be the location for the Temple of the LORD God and the place of the altar for Israel’s burnt offerings!” (2) So David gave orders to call together the foreigners living in Israel, and he assigned them the task of preparing finished stone for building the Temple of God. (3) David provided large amounts of iron for the nails that would be needed for the doors in the gates and for the clamps, and he gave more bronze than could be weighed. (4) He also provided innumerable cedar logs, for the men of Tyre and Sidon had brought vast amounts of cedar to David.

We obviously have to look back a chapter to see why David chose that location to build the Temple.

David looked up and saw the angel of the LORD standing between heaven and earth with his sword drawn, reaching out over Jerusalem. So David and the leaders of Israel put on burlap to show their deep distress and fell face down on the ground. And David said to God, “I am the one who called for the census! I am the one who has sinned and done wrong! But these people are as innocent as sheep–what have they done? O LORD my God, let your anger fall against me and my family, but do not destroy your people.” Then the angel of the LORD told Gad to instruct David to go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. So David went up to do what the LORD had commanded him through Gad. Araunah, who was busy threshing wheat at the time, turned and saw the angel there. His four sons, who were with him, ran away and hid. When Araunah saw David approaching, he left his threshing floor and bowed before David with his face to the ground. David said to Araunah, “Let me buy this threshing floor from you at its full price. Then I will build an altar to the LORD there, so that he will stop the plague.” “Take it, my lord the king, and use it as you wish,” Araunah said to David. “I will give the oxen for the burnt offerings, and the threshing boards for wood to build a fire on the altar, and the wheat for the grain offering. I will give it all to you.” But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it for the full price. I will not take what is yours and give it to the LORD. I will not present burnt offerings that have cost me nothing!” So David gave Araunah 600 pieces of gold in payment for the threshing floor. David built an altar there to the LORD and sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings. And when David prayed, the LORD answered him by sending fire from heaven to burn up the offering on the altar. Then the LORD spoke to the angel, who put the sword back into its sheath. When David saw that the LORD had answered his prayer, he offered sacrifices there at Araunah’s threshing floor. At that time the Tabernacle of the LORD and the altar of burnt offering that Moses had made in the wilderness were located at the place of worship in Gibeon. But David was not able to go there to inquire of God, because he was terrified by the drawn sword of the angel of the LORD. (1 Chronicles 21:16-30 NLTse).

After David took a census in Israel, God gave him a choice. Then the LORD spoke to Gad, David’s seer. This was the message: “Go and say to David, ‘This is what the LORD says: I will give you three choices. Choose one of these punishments, and I will inflict it on you.'” So Gad came to David and said, “These are the choices the LORD has given you. You may choose three years of famine, three months of destruction by the sword of your enemies, or three days of severe plague as the angel of the LORD brings devastation throughout the land of Israel. Decide what answer I should give the LORD who sent me.” (1 Chronicles 21:9-12 NLTse).

We’d have to ask why God disapproved of David’s decision to count, or number Israel. Satan rose up against Israel and caused David to take a census of the people of Israel. (1 Chronicles 21:1 NLTse). It was a temptation, or suggestion from Satan. It’s not by chance this story leads us back to a story about another census. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Whenever you take a census of the people of Israel, each man who is counted must pay a ransom for himself to the LORD. Then no plague will strike the people as you count them. Each person who is counted must give a small piece of silver as a sacred offering to the LORD. (This payment is half a shekel, based on the sanctuary shekel, which equals twenty gerahs.) (Exodus 30:11-13 NLTse). If David would have read that story, he could have saved a lot of lives. Forgetting scripture cost Israel dearly. Strange as it may seem, that ransom payment was collected to maintain the Tabernacle. Receive this ransom money from the Israelites, and use it for the care of the Tabernacle. It will bring the Israelites to the LORD’s attention, and it will purify your lives.” (Exodus 30:16 NLTse).

Scripture keeps sending us back to information about the Tabernacle. Based on 1 Chronicles 21, we know the Tabernacle was still in Israel. Strange how the Bible told us, David was not able to go to the Tabernacle. The Ark was in the tent David built in Jerusalem, but the author pointed us to the Tabernacle as the site that may have saved David. God verified the lack of power the Ark possessed. What does that tell us? The Tabernacle was mentioned as the place David needed to go and talk with God. Why not the Ark? What message is in that story?

Previous chapters in this book discussed problems associated with separating the Ark from the Tabernacle. Does this story verify that information? What about the plague Israel had to suffer? The author placed blame on Satan, but it was David’s decision to count Israel. It was David’s responsibility to know how to take a census. Does that tell us something we should know?

This may seem like an obscure example, and I’d hate to mislead anyone. I’m saying, check this out in more detail on your own. What we have so far is one story about David numbering Israel, and God being angry about it. We have to ask why. God would not get angry or punish people over something they could not have known about. I’m not sure if there wasn’t some warning written about numbering people. I seem to remember something about putting your trust in God and not numbers. But that didn’t show up in any of the searches I conducted.

I’d like to share a little of what I learned about searching the Bible on computer programs. Modern English translations my be better for writing, but not as good as searching. The most reliable translation for conducting word searches is the KJV. Translators seem to be concerned about how words were translated, then used the same English word throughout scripture as much as they could. In other words, the KJV is much more consistent, being careful to use the same English word from one end of the Bible to the other whenever they saw the same Hebrew or Greek word.

To explain that, look at the Strong’s Concordance. Each Hebrew word has a number beginning with H. The H stands for Hebrew. Greek words in the New Testament begin with G. When we see a Hebrew or Greek word with its corresponding number, that number is translated into the same English word throughout scripture in the KJV. Translators were very careful to use the same English word whenever they could. That makes it much easier to conduct word searches.

In this example we have a Hebrew word that could have been translated numbered, census, or translators could have used other words like counted. When the KJV translators decided to use numbered for that Hebrew word, they used it consistently throughout the Old Testament. Other translations were not as persistent. They mixed and matched census, counted, numbered, and other words to accommodate the sentence structure they chose to follow.

What does that mean? Does that mean we stick to the KJV and throw out every other version of the Bible? I’m not sure if you heard from people with that belief. Those people can be a little course and one sided in their thinking. And woefully misinformed. They have no idea why they are on the KJV bandwagon and the harm they are doing to God’s Word, or His credibility as a whole. They have no idea God had that problem covered long before it showed up in this world.

God created and installed a system in His Word, so that no matter which word translators decided to use, the dedicate student of scripture could easily use any translation to see and understand the main thought, theme, and lessons in every chapter and story in the Bible, no matter which book or author they are reading. That is the rule of context referred to as, the rule of repetition.

The rule of repetition is simple, easy to learn, and put into practice. It does require a little practice, but what are you worrying about when you have the Holy Spirit by your side whenever you study? The rule of repetition tells us to highlight words that are the same, similar, and related. If the translators used the word census in one verse, counted on the next verse, then numbered a few verses later, once those words were highlighted the same color, we could instantly see the main idea the author was conveying, or focusing on. Words can also be contrasts.

When we look at 1 Chronicles 21:16-30, we see census was only used once. We know it is crucial to the story, but when we continue to highlight other words, we see other details most people miss. I went back and used bold, underlines, and light highlighting to show some of them. Words associated with work stand out. That shows us it how important it was for David to prepare for what he was about to do, take that census. If we looked at verse 1, we’d see Satan involved. Satan offered a suggestion, and David flew into action. That was the mistake. If David prayed, God may have sent Gad the prophet before David made a major mistake. If David studied scripture on the subject, we know he would have found special instructions about taking a census. What do we learn from this?

The Bible has the ability to answer questions. When we learn how to study scripture, we learn how God gives instructions through His Word, and verifies everything. That is part of what proves the Bible is God’s Word.

We also learned how people get in trouble when Satan places ideas in our heads, and we run with them before consulting God, and His Word. Look at 1 Chronicles 21:16-30 and highlight all the words associated with communication. You’ll see how important communication is in this lesson.

Words associated with work took our minds and placed them where the author wanted us to be, in tune with work and preparation, the only way that plague could have been avoided. Other key words are associated with sin, wrong, and destroy. That is the outcome we can expect when we skip the preparation and planning stage. How often do you do that, or see other people doing that?

It’s not uncommon for preachers to teach something. And people to take that information, then fly all over the city, or Internet to force feed that lesson to everyone they encounter. To a large degree, that is what Christianity has been taught to settle for. No one takes time, and few people have the knowledge to check out what they’ve been told to preach. Like David, they take a suggestion and go ahead full speed thinking they are accomplishing something great.

How does all this apply to the chapter at hand? Look at the introduction. Then David said, “This will be the location for the Temple of the LORD God and the place of the altar for Israel’s burnt offerings!” The previous chapter showed what happened when the idea of numbering Israel popped into David’s head and he carried out his idea without consulting God or scripture. When I searched the KJV with the word numbered, I was surprised to see how that lead to stories about the Tabernacle. Stories about how Israel was numbered or counted by Moses also told us how the Tabernacle was maintained, who maintained the Tabernacle, how funds were raised, how and when the Tabernacle was moved. If David would have taken time to study one subject, how to number Israel, scripture would have automatically answered all the other questions David should have asked.

Here we have David making one mistake, thousands in Israel had to suffer for it, then the king turned around and without a single thought, made the same mistake. How could that happen? We discussed the rule of repetition with words. Here is an example of repetition between stories.

Jesus used that rule of repetition when He taught using parables. Jesus knew He had to knock down mountains to get people to open their ears to listen , and minds to understand. Jesus used repetition to slowly chip away at walls they built around themselves. It is a process repeated throughout scripture in the hope, we would find the lessons and learn from them, including the process. That process is far different than what the world teaches, but a process God knows, and is sure will work, in time. The time factor is not what people feel comfortable with. People want to see instant results. Especially in this computer age.

Based on how the author constructed this story, we can see how fast David reacted. Here is the place. Now bring the stones. God is showing us how Christianity works. Not the way Jesus taught us how to reach people, but how church boards want things to work.

God has other ways to teach us. One of those ways is to put people in our lives. One of David’s most trusted people was his general Joab. When we look at the story about David numbering Israel, we see how Joab tried to warn David. But David decided to ignore the warning.

1 Chronicles 21:1-6 NLTse (1) Satan rose up against Israel and caused David to take a census of the people of Israel. (2) So David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, “Take a census of all the people of Israel–from Beersheba in the south to Dan in the north–and bring me a report so I may know how many there are.” (3) But Joab replied, “May the LORD increase the number of his people a hundred times over! But why, my lord the king, do you want to do this? Are they not all your servants? Why must you cause Israel to sin?” (4) But the king insisted that they take the census, so Joab traveled throughout all Israel to count the people. Then he returned to Jerusalem (5) and reported the number of people to David. There were 1,100,000 warriors in all Israel who could handle a sword, and 470,000 in Judah. (6) But Joab did not include the tribes of Levi and Benjamin in the census because he was so distressed at what the king had made him do.

Joab must have remembered something about how to take a census. Joab was smart enough to not include the Levites in the census. That shows how a little bit of information can be dangerous. And it teaches another lesson. We are pretty much useless when we know something is wrong, but we don’t spend time to dig deep enough for the solution. What is the alternative? We can watch people walk into mistakes, or we can follow them into the misfortune by not properly consulting God. But when we take our time, and go beyond the cliches about praying by actually praying, and waiting for the answer, or studying to find the answer, and of course, keep our eyes open for people God sends to confirm answers, we can be of service to God and the people around us.

It seems David remembered Joab’s warning, and didn’t want to take any chances on his latest decision, where to build the temple. David gave orders to call together the foreigners living in Israel, and he assigned them the task of preparing finished stone for building the Temple of God. David didn’t consult with anyone. David called the foreigners together, people who couldn’t possibly question his decision.

Why did the author mention stones first? Does that send us back to Peter’s explanation about Jesus’ living stones? Of course it does. Here we see David repeating a mistake by not consulting scripture, or God a second time. The first mistake resulted in the death of 70,000 people. It was a mistake David and the other leaders in Israel should have learned from. But what did David learn when he instantly made another major decision without consulting God and scripture? It seems David remained self reliant. David wanted to be the go to guy with all the answers.

When we look at the how the previous chapter ended, we don’t see anything telling David where to build the temple. We do see a few other details.

When David saw that the LORD had answered his prayer, he offered sacrifices there at Araunah’s threshing floor. At that time the Tabernacle of the LORD and the altar of burnt offering that Moses had made in the wilderness were located at the place of worship in Gibeon. But David was not able to go there to inquire of God, because he was terrified by the drawn sword of the angel of the LORD. (1 Chronicles 21:28-30 NLTse).

God placed a link between that sword and the Tabernacle. Was that sword keeping David away from the Tabernacle, or was it the mistake David made setting up that barrier? What do you think? What about those burnt offerings? God never gave kings authority to offer sacrifices. That’s what got Saul into trouble. Gad told David to construct an altar, nothing about offering sacrifices on it. Was David supposed to wait for the high priest with further instructions? David moved so fast, and took control so quickly, we have no way of knowing what God had planned.

Based on the materials David supplied, it appears he had most of that planned before he decided on a site. Put that together with the message Nathan gave to David about how God had all the details planned for His house, and what conclusion do we reach? It seems David had his mind made up and no one, not even God was going to change it. Not even the death of 70,000 people. What was God supposed to do?

Often times God has no choice but to let people continue with their plans until they are ready to sit down and listen. God doesn’t force us to follow His plans. I’ve heard people say, “God gives us freedom of choice.” And I’ve seen people take that freedom of choice to extremes. The fact of the matter is, we have the choice to listen to God or not. We have the choice to approach God’s throne, or come up with our own plans. We can consult scripture, or rely on our own wisdom. We always have a choice.

Posted in Advanced Studies, Bible Study Aids, Bible Study Methods Explained, Christian Books, Tabernacle | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Ark in a New Tent 1 Chronicles 16

Posted by Ez1 Realty on November 2, 2017

1 Chronicles 16:1-6 NLTse (1) They brought the Ark of God and placed it inside the special tent David had prepared for it. And they presented burnt offerings and peace offerings to God. (2) When he had finished his sacrifices, David blessed the people in the name of the LORD. (3) Then he gave to every man and woman in all Israel a loaf of bread, a cake of dates, and a cake of raisins. (4) David appointed the following Levites to lead the people in worship before the Ark of the LORD–to invoke his blessings, to give thanks, and to praise the LORD, the God of Israel. (5) Asaph, the leader of this group, sounded the cymbals. Second to him was Zechariah, followed by Jeiel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, Obed-edom, and Jeiel. They played the harps and lyres. (6) The priests, Benaiah and Jahaziel, played the trumpets regularly before the Ark of God’s Covenant.

Here we are reminded about a tent David prepared for the Ark. What happened to the Tabernacle Moses prepared for the Ark? What happened to all the other objects and articles in the Tabernacle designed to explain the approach to the Ark? Did David do the right thing?

This subject is recorded a number of times in scripture. We can’t help but find this story if we study scripture in any organized manner. Especially if we are studying the Tabernacle or temple. None of the authors recording this story offer any details about David’s tent. We have no idea what that tent looked like, or what David based his design on. How does that apply to present day views and what is taught about the Ark and Tabernacle today?

When only certain bits and pieces of the Tabernacle receive special attention, that leads to teaching about one or a few select items in the Tabernacle. We tend to loose or miss the overall view of the Tabernacle, and everything it teaches about the plan of salvation.

Not all Christian religions know about, or teach about the judgment process in Heaven. And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world–to every nation, tribe, language, and people. “Fear God,” he shouted. “Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.” (Revelation 14:6-7 NLTse).

Revelation 14 tells us about a time when God will judge the world. Based on the context, that time was after John wrote Revelation. Finding that time is a rather long study you can investigate on your own. The point here is, some Christians prefer to ignore that judgment process. By doing so, they chose to ignore certain parts of the Tabernacle and its services.

Some people prefer to ignore some parts of the Tabernacle while placing special emphasis on other sections, items, or services associated with the Tabernacle. By doing so, can they trust what they teach? When they leave parts out, their instructions can’t hope to be complete. Maybe their beliefs go off on tangents mixing worldly beliefs with factual information from the Tabernacle. The point authors brought up is, something will happen whenever parts are separated from the Tabernacle.

When we look down Israel’s history, we see how separating the Ark from the Tabernacle led to many different tangents and paths Israel followed. Some of those tangents carried into parts of Christianity. Some denominations insist the law was only for the Jews, and not for Christians. From that change they developed the once saved, always saved theology, and others to cover the absence of the law.

Another change we see in this chapter is the introduction of new sacrifices. Those changes led to separating sacrifices from the Tabernacle, then eventually led to making the sacrificial system a way to work into God’s grace. The Gospels tell us how the Jews taught people, the law was designed to follow as a way to work your way into Heaven, and the sacrificial system was mandatory to stand in God’s grace. In both cases, they lost the vision of the Tabernacle. With only a stone temple to look to, and that was a copy of a copy, everything was lost. There was no vision, understanding, and very little communication with God. It didn’t matter what was in the stone temple, their view of the one and only living God was the same as any other Pagan god. There was no connection, symbols were gone, communication didn’t exist, all that was left was a long list of details to follow, and sacrifices to offer. When they put away the Tabernacle, they shut put God’s personality.

What does the process of taking the Ark away from the Tabernacle and placing it in a tent of your own design show us? David didn’t take the Ark out of the Tabernacle, but he could have taken the Ark back to the Tabernacle and placed it where it belonged. Since many people associate the Ark with the law, what does it mean to take the law away from the Tabernacle, and place it in a world designed the way you think it should look and perform?

David may have been a good man, a man after God’s own heart. David may have developed a great relationship with God, written many Psalms, the longest book in the Bible, and taught us a lot about prayer, but what about the next, and next person? David’s relationship with God may have been strong enough to take the Ark out of its environment, and place it in Jerusalem, but not everyone shared that enthusiasm with God. Not everyone was at the stage David reached. Not everyone understood God the way David.

What about those times when a number of evil kings and their sons took everything out of the temple and turned it into a shine for one or more Pagan gods? Then a good king came along, cleaned out the temple, and did his best to restore it. The new king had little to go on. When did the good king see the Tabernacle, or the Ark? The Bible has a story about a king who restored the temple, and later found a book of the law.

Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the court secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the LORD’s Temple!” Then Hilkiah gave the scroll to Shaphan, and he read it. Shaphan went to the king and reported, “Your officials have turned over the money collected at the Temple of the LORD to the workers and supervisors at the Temple.” Shaphan also told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a scroll.” So Shaphan read it to the king. When the king heard what was written in the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes in despair. (2 Kings 22:8-11 NLTse).

When the king read that section of the Old Testament, he saw how little he understood about God, he tore his clothes. Now we have to consider that point in relationship to the times we live in. Every Christian reads the same Bible, and we have a million different views. How did those people look at the section of scripture they had? What did it mean to them?

Some of those traditions worked their way into Christianity. We have seen good people in the past who God did talk to and guide, but what happened after a few generations? We do have a host of different views on the same two subjects, the law and sacrifices. Today most Christians agree, Jesus is the only sacrifice that matters. On the other hand we have debates on what Jesus’ sacrifice really means, and how His sacrifice is related to the law. Some are like David, removing the law from the Tabernacle in their own way. The Ark is gone, it is in a tent some modern day Christians fabricated on their own and they feel they need to protect God, and the scriptures they way they interpret them. But where is the rest of the Tabernacle in their doctrines when they claim the law is dead? How can you have a living Savior and a dead law?

There are so many types of Christianity today, we would have a difficult time counting them. Inside each of those are thousands of little factions leaning one way or another. What are they missing that keeps them to themselves? What does the design of their tent look like? Whatever happened to the original Tabernacle?

Like I mentioned in previous books, every other book I’ve read about the Tabernacle contained sections of the temple. Authors weaved them together to create a custom vision of God’s original design. The deeper we dig into David’s tent, the more this looks like a prophecy warning us all of those things will happen. It is as if David started a new tradition, make your own tent to worship God, and move in whatever you think is important. Then leave out whatever you don’t understand, or agree with. That wasn’t David’s intent, but as generations passed, that is what happened.

Posted in Advanced Studies, Bible Study with Context, Christian Books, Commandments, Explained Studies, Simple Studies, Tabernacle | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Priests Who Returned

Posted by Ez1 Realty on October 28, 2017

1 Chronicles 9:10-28 NLTse (10) Among the priests who returned were Jedaiah, Jehoiarib, Jakin, (11) Azariah son of Hilkiah, son of Meshullam, son of Zadok, son of Meraioth, son of Ahitub. Azariah was the chief officer of the house of God. (12) Other returning priests were Adaiah son of Jeroham, son of Pashhur, son of Malkijah, and Maasai son of Adiel, son of Jahzerah, son of Meshullam, son of Meshillemith, son of Immer. (13) In all, 1,760 priests returned. They were heads of clans and very able men. They were responsible for ministering at the house of God. (14) The Levites who returned were Shemaiah son of Hasshub, son of Azrikam, son of Hashabiah, a descendant of Merari; (15) Bakbakkar; Heresh; Galal; Mattaniah son of Mica, son of Zicri, son of Asaph; (16) Obadiah son of Shemaiah, son of Galal, son of Jeduthun; and Berekiah son of Asa, son of Elkanah, who lived in the area of Netophah. (17) The gatekeepers who returned were Shallum, Akkub, Talmon, Ahiman, and their relatives. Shallum was the chief gatekeeper. (18) Prior to this time, they were responsible for the King’s Gate on the east side. These men served as gatekeepers for the camps of the Levites. (19) Shallum was the son of Kore, a descendant of Abiasaph, from the clan of Korah. He and his relatives, the Korahites, were responsible for guarding the entrance to the sanctuary, just as their ancestors had guarded the Tabernacle in the camp of the LORD. (20) Phinehas son of Eleazar had been in charge of the gatekeepers in earlier times, and the LORD had been with him. (21) And later Zechariah son of Meshelemiah was responsible for guarding the entrance to the Tabernacle. (22) In all, there were 212 gatekeepers in those days, and they were listed according to the genealogies in their villages. David and Samuel the seer had appointed their ancestors because they were reliable men. (23) These gatekeepers and their descendants, by their divisions, were responsible for guarding the entrance to the house of the LORD when that house was a tent. (24) The gatekeepers were stationed on all four sides–east, west, north, and south. (25) Their relatives in the villages came regularly to share their duties for seven-day periods. (26) The four chief gatekeepers, all Levites, were trusted officials, for they were responsible for the rooms and treasuries at the house of God. (27) They would spend the night around the house of God, since it was their duty to guard it and to open the gates every morning. (28) Some of the gatekeepers were assigned to care for the various articles used in worship. They checked them in and out to avoid any loss.

The first group recorded is the priests, followed by the Levites. The third group is the gatekeepers. This followed an order beginning inside the temple moving outwards.

The third detail focuses on the gatekeepers. As we progress, the reason behind that becomes easier to see. This is almost like Ezekiel’s vision of the temple where God’s prophet began at the gates and moved into the temple.

Ezekiel 8:1-13 NLTse Then on September 17, during the sixth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity, while the leaders of Judah were in my home, the Sovereign LORD took hold of me. (2) I saw a figure that appeared to be a man. From what appeared to be his waist down, he looked like a burning flame. From the waist up he looked like gleaming amber. (3) He reached out what seemed to be a hand and took me by the hair. Then the Spirit lifted me up into the sky and transported me to Jerusalem in a vision from God. I was taken to the north gate of the inner courtyard of the Temple, where there is a large idol that has made the LORD very jealous. (4) Suddenly, the glory of the God of Israel was there, just as I had seen it before in the valley. (5) Then the LORD said to me, “Son of man, look toward the north.” So I looked, and there to the north, beside the entrance to the gate near the altar, stood the idol that had made the LORD so jealous. (6) “Son of man,” he said, “do you see what they are doing? Do you see the detestable sins the people of Israel are committing to drive me from my Temple? But come, and you will see even more detestable sins than these!” (7) Then he brought me to the door of the Temple courtyard, where I could see a hole in the wall. (8) He said to me, “Now, son of man, dig into the wall.” So I dug into the wall and found a hidden doorway. (9) “Go in,” he said, “and see the wicked and detestable sins they are committing in there!” (10) So I went in and saw the walls engraved with all kinds of crawling animals and detestable creatures. I also saw the various idols worshiped by the people of Israel. (11) Seventy leaders of Israel were standing there with Jaazaniah son of Shaphan in the center. Each of them held an incense burner, from which a cloud of incense rose above their heads. (12) Then the LORD said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the leaders of Israel are doing with their idols in dark rooms? They are saying, ‘The LORD doesn’t see us; he has deserted our land!'” (13) Then the LORD added, “Come, and I will show you even more detestable sins than these!”

The site, nor the news was not very pleasant. God showed Ezekiel what was happening behind he scenes in Jerusalem. If we had any question as to what Nebuchadnezzar carried off to Babylon, we see the mixture of gods inside the temple before Babylon arrived. If Nebuchadnezzar wanted to learn about the Jewish religion, he received a distorted view. God showed Ezekiel what Nebuchadnezzar’s found when they entered the temple for the first time.

People often refer to Babylon as the origin of evil made up of misguided and mixed up religious practices. When we look at scripture and compare a few stories, we see a far different view than the world paints. We see the beginning of that confusion. We don’t find a perfect, untarnished religion being taken into Babylon, or tainted by Babylon. The people God trusted to keep His religion holy tarnished it long before Nebuchadnezzar’s armies arrived on the scene.

This adds a new dimension of Babylon to consider. Based on what we read about Assyria, other ancient cultures, and the ten northern tribes of Israel included, paganism was alive and thriving. God had a rough time showing people His pure religion. Everything Moses helped build seems to have been kicked to the side of the road. What the Israelites learned in Babylon only added to the problem.

What do those gatekeepers point to? Their role was to guard the temple. Christians use the symbol of the gatekeeper or watchman in a number of applications. Many Christians use the gatekeeper to represent their own brand of religion insisting the gatekeeper points to a pure religion, namely themselves.

Based on what we see in scripture, God took Ezekiel past those gates, inside the walls, and showed him what was actually happening inside. I don’t know about you, but I would be careful about taking a symbol, and applying it to myself without knowing the full picture. Was God telling Ezekiel, those gatekeepers didn’t know what was going on behind the scenes? Or was God telling Ezekiel, the gatekeepers were part of the problem? Were the gatekeepers protecting the temple and what was in it? Or were those gatekeepers protecting secrets from being discovered?

We can’t help but see the underlying message in this chapter when we combine it with Ezekiel’s vision. How do we know we’re safe, and how do we know we are following God’s pure form of worship if we don’t take a closer look? It wasn’t difficult for God to show Ezekiel what was going on. Why can’t God do the same thing for each of us today? If God did show us what is happening behind the scenes, would we be able to tell if it was holy, or a well planned counterfeit?

It seems we have to rely on an old Christian saying, “we need to study the original so we can tell when we see a counterfeit.” I’ve heard that preached. That is usually used as an introduction to a sermon on the doctrines of a church. I’ve yet to see a preacher say, “we have to study the original,” then teach people how to study scripture on their own.

It seems rather strange to see room full after room full of adults being told they have to study, then told what to study, then see grown men and woman, many of them, parents walk out without ever being taught how to study. As a matter of fact, the preachers they just listened to insisted he had all the right answers to all the important subjects, but never shared how they found those answers, but once again insisted God had a hand in what he taught.

Parents would be irate if their kids came home lost in the clouds like that. The child comes home and the parents asks, “have any homework?” The child answers. “yes.” The parents asks what the homework is, and the child relies, “I don’t know.” It happens all the time people come home from church, but homes are filled with a system of double standards.

As the child progresses through the grades, they all come home with questions on how to solve problems and finish their homework. If the child has questions on complicated math problems, the parent always asks, “how did the teacher tell you how to solve these equations?” For certain, you are going to see one excited parent when the child explains, “the teacher never showed the class how to solve the problems, all the teacher did was write the equations on the chalk board.” You would see the parent jumping into action, calling other parents, and gathering support to get that teacher fired when the child came home with no idea of how to solve a complicated mathematical equation, and told their parents, “all the teacher did was write the answers in the board.”

If that happened on a consistent level, we would see teachers, principals, superintendents, administrators, mayors, and city officials at every level loosing their jobs, being impeached, and never having another hope of every collecting a penny of tax payer funds. If that were the case, why do we see preachers on every level getting away with telling us, we need to study, then preaching the answers they think we should know? Why does the world accept such a double standard?

Teachers earn a degree by learning and practicing different teaching methods and procedures. Teachers are specially trained to communicate in a number of different ways because common sense tells us, not every student in the classroom progresses at the same rate. What about preachers? Do they learn those skills in theology colleges? If they did, we would see churches run much differently than what they are today. No matter if the preacher is in front of six people, or a worldwide audience, their presentation is the same. Preachers use a few key words and phrases to make people feel that salvation is lost if they don’t understand, or if they ask questions. That is not anything near teaching.

We have a major problem in Christianity. No one seems to know the step by step process to work through the complicated problems and find the proper answer. We have a world blindly relying on people to provide those answers with little or no knowledge to explain how to follow steps that can be used to solve similar problems.

Lucky for us God is not like that. God wrote the teaching manual He uses. So God knows how to explain every procedure. God also knows exactly what level each of us is at, and how to put together a custom made lesson plan for each of us. When we study with God as our teacher, we will never give the answer, “I don’t know how I came up with that answer.” Hod teaches using repetition until we know how to use that process, and teach it. God not only tells us how to find answers in scripture, but earn our degree in His school of higher education. Of course God’s idea of a higher education is far different than the world’s concept.

If your a teacher, you have the ability to teacher other people how to teach. You studied your lessons and know exactly how to explain each one in a number of different ways. If your an auto mechanic, you know how to teach other people how to change a tire, diagnose problems, and take an entire engine apart, replace the defective part, assemble the engine, and have it running like brand new. If you do body work on cars, you can show other people how to fix dents, replace fenders, weld, paint, and a number of other skills required to make the car look brand new. If your an electrician or plumber, you know the codes, how electricity or water comes into the building, how to distribute it, and install the proper safety features. You are tested on building codes and have to pass exams to prove you are qualified to do the work.

What about pastors? People think they know how to study scripture, but where is the proof? Where are the codes and exams? Where is the evidence? Why aren’t preachers known for teaching people how to study scripture, or find that coveted relationship with God and Jesus Christians are supposed to be known for? Why is Christianity known for a mass of confused factions arguing back and forth about who knows more and what is the right answer on a handful of subjects? If those Christians had the right answers, why can’t they explain how they studied at Jesus’ feet and how Jesus provided the correct answers?

It’s time to ask some serious questions, and find where to go and how to get the right answers. Not all Christians are ace Bible Study students. Bible Study is not the spiritual gift for every Christian, or their ministry. I know some people leading more people to God with such simple gestures, many people don’t consider their ministries as spiritual gifts. Their ministries are so natural and fluid, the world doesn’t know what to think, and often take their ministries for granted, chalking them up as some type of natural ability. Seldom is God given proper credit for some of the most effective ministries in this world.

Your ministry may be to help feed homeless people, or listen to couples with marital problems, without ever offering a word of advice. You may have a ministry of cleaning up garbage along the roadside, helping an elderly neighbor maintain their yard, or repair their home. You may find joy in helping a busy single mom get her kids to meetings and events. You may be a prayer warrior. Bible Study may be little more than a sense of relief, or temporary escape from this world. Your one of the lucky people if you have a personal ministry and the church leaves you alone. Too often I’ve seen churches micromanage personal ministries to the point they suffocate them.

People can and should receive training for their personal ministries from Jesus. No one has any right to step in and take over for the KING of the Universe. Not after He spent time teaching His children. If people want to step in and take control, where is their proof they know what they are doing, and Jesus gave them that authority? If they claim the Bible is their authority, can they prove they know how to study scripture before they begin exerting that authority? We need a system of checks and balances in this world to find out how to tell the real Christians from those who are on their own journey, but have not reached levels they insist they are qualified to handle. Who do you want to learn from, the master electrician and plumber, or the one just beginning an apprenticeship?

Posted in Bible Study Aids, Bible Study Methods Explained, Bible Study with Context, Christian Books, Simple Studies, Tabernacle | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Isaiah’s Message to Hezekiah

Posted by Ez1 Realty on October 14, 2017

2 Kings 19:20-28 NLTse Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent this message to Hezekiah: “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I have heard your prayer about King Sennacherib of Assyria. (21) And the LORD has spoken this word against him: “The virgin daughter of Zion despises you and laughs at you. The daughter of Jerusalem shakes her head in derision as you flee. (22) “Whom have you been defying and ridiculing? Against whom did you raise your voice? At whom did you look with such haughty eyes? It was the Holy One of Israel! (23) By your messengers you have defied the Lord. You have said, ‘With my many chariots I have conquered the highest mountains– yes, the remotest peaks of Lebanon. I have cut down its tallest cedars and its finest cypress trees. I have reached its farthest corners and explored its deepest forests. (24) I have dug wells in many foreign lands and refreshed myself with their water. With the sole of my foot I stopped up all the rivers of Egypt!’ (25) “But have you not heard? I decided this long ago. Long ago I planned it, and now I am making it happen. I planned for you to crush fortified cities into heaps of rubble. (26) their people have so little power and are so frightened and confused. They are as weak as grass, as That is why easily trampled as tender green shoots. They are like grass sprouting on a housetop, scorched before it can grow lush and tall. (27) “But I know you well– where you stay and when you come and go. I know the way you have raged against me. (28) And because of your raging against me and your arrogance, which I have heard for myself, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth. I will make you return by the same road on which you came.”

This seems rather strange. After seeing how Hezekiah chose to personally chose to address the Levites, and not personally address the envoy from Assyria, we now see Isaiah sending a message to Hezekiah. Why didn’t Isaiah personally address the king? It may have been a nudge to get Hezekiah to do the obvious, talk directly with God. That was the ultimate goal, and what God wanted Hezekiah to teach the Levites, as well as the entire nation. Hezekiah had to teach based on experience.

This is actually a prophecy. But look at how much of this prophecy deals with the past. Most of it. Then the prophecy transitions into the future for Hezekiah. Look at how this prophecy transitioned. “But I know you well–” The word but is a transition word introducing a new train of thought, The prophecy then transitioned in the future. “ And because of your raging against me…” The word and is another transition word. Often scripture is translated to use the English word then to make the transition more noticeable.

I call those types of transition words, timing words. Words like then, and, meanwhile, and others show a sequence of events relying on specific timing. Timing is one of the most important factors in prophecy. Every event in Jesus’ ministry had to be fulfilled in a specific order at a specific time. The same is true for all prophecies.

The first thing God reassured Hezekiah about was the fact, God heard his prayer. This is the major role of a prophet, to lead people to God. Telling Hezekiah, God personally heard his prayer cleared up the fact, Hezekiah didn’t need anyone between himself and God. Hezekiah and everyone could go directly to God at any time.

The prophet identified exactly how God communicated with him. God spoke directly to Isaiah. Why did God speak directly to Isaiah and not answer Hezekiah? Based on the story, Hezekiah spent time away from God, placing his trust in gold and silver. That’s why we see God explain how useless those weapons were. Assyria used gold and silver from Hezekiah and his father Ahaz to buy those weapons of war. The connection between those weapons and the money used to build them should be obvious. Not to mention the time and effort to make them.

God used a lot of symbolism in this prophecy, like He usually does with every prophecy. Here we can see how the story interprets the symbols. The virgin daughter of Zion obviously points to Jerusalem or Judah. The people God is going to protect and defend. That symbol is repeated as, the daughter of Jerusalem. The power of repetition points to how important God’s people are to Him, and how Jerusalem is at the center of this story. God established His own connection between Himself and His people. “Whom have you been defying and ridiculing? Against whom did you raise your voice? At whom did you look with such haughty eyes? It was the Holy One of Israel! (23) By your messengers you have defied the Lord.”

Then God told us how Assyria viewed God and His strength by using key words like mountains, cedar and cypress trees, and the rivers of Egypt. God made it clear, comparing Him to those earthly symbols was insulting. There was a price to pay.

God pointed back to a previous prophecy to show a sample of His knowledge and power. How do we find that prophecy? The easiest way using a chain reference in a good study Bible, or on a Bible computer program. The Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge in E-Sword leads us right to the prophecy.

Isaiah 10:5-23 NLTse “What sorrow awaits Assyria, the rod of my anger. I use it as a club to express my anger. (6) I am sending Assyria against a godless nation, against a people with whom I am angry. Assyria will plunder them, trampling them like dirt beneath its feet. (7) But the king of Assyria will not understand that he is my tool; his mind does not work that way. His plan is simply to destroy, to cut down nation after nation. (8) He will say, ‘Each of my princes will soon be a king. (9) We destroyed Calno just as we did Carchemish. Hamath fell before us as Arpad did. And we destroyed Samaria just as we did Damascus. (10) Yes, we have finished off many a kingdom whose gods were greater than those in Jerusalem and Samaria. (11) So we will defeat Jerusalem and her gods, just as we destroyed Samaria with hers.'” (12) After the Lord has used the king of Assyria to accomplish his purposes on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, he will turn against the king of Assyria and punish him–for he is proud and arrogant. (13) He boasts, “By my own powerful arm I have done this. With my own shrewd wisdom I planned it. I have broken down the defenses of nations and carried off their treasures. I have knocked down their kings like a bull. (14) I have robbed their nests of riches and gathered up kingdoms as a farmer gathers eggs. No one can even flap a wing against me or utter a peep of protest.” (15) But can the ax boast greater power than the person who uses it? Is the saw greater than the person who saws? Can a rod strike unless a hand moves it? Can a wooden cane walk by itself? (16) Therefore, the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, will send a plague among Assyria’s proud troops, and a flaming fire will consume its glory. (17) The LORD, the Light of Israel, will be a fire; the Holy One will be a flame. He will devour the thorns and briers with fire, burning up the enemy in a single night. (18) The LORD will consume Assyria’s glory like a fire consumes a forest in a fruitful land; it will waste away like sick people in a plague. (19) Of all that glorious forest, only a few trees will survive– so few that a child could count them! (20) In that day the remnant left in Israel, the survivors in the house of Jacob, will no longer depend on allies who seek to destroy them. But they will faithfully trust the LORD, the Holy One of Israel. (21) A remnant will return; yes, the remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God. (22) But though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand of the seashore, only a remnant of them will return. The LORD has rightly decided to destroy his people. (23) Yes, the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, has already decided to destroy the entire land.

Here is another example of collecting all the information on a subject. This may be a more important example since it deals with a prophecy. We didn’t need any outside sources to find the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. Another Bible author provided all the information we needed. As we can see, Isaiah provided a lot more information than the brief summary recorded in 2 Kings.

2 Kings explained how God viewed Assyria, who never saw how they were blessed. Assyria wanted to take all the credit, but that wasn’t what God wanted. God took a poor example Assyria set, and turned that into a lesson. Even when we turn our backs in God, He has a His way of turning everything into a lesson, and blessing of sorts.

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Hezekiah Received the Letter from Assyria

Posted by Ez1 Realty on October 14, 2017

2 Kings 19:14-19 NLTse After Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it, he went up to the LORD’s Temple and spread it out before the LORD. (15) And Hezekiah prayed this prayer before the LORD: “O LORD, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth. (16) Bend down, O LORD, and listen! Open your eyes, O LORD, and see! Listen to Sennacherib’s words of defiance against the living God. (17) “It is true, LORD, that the kings of Assyria have destroyed all these nations. (18) And they have thrown the gods of these nations into the fire and burned them. But of course the Assyrians could destroy them! They were not gods at all–only idols of wood and stone shaped by human hands. (19) Now, O LORD our God, rescue us from his power; then all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you alone, O LORD, are God.”

This is the part of the story most people are familiar with. Spreading out those letters in front of God takes on many different meanings throughout the Christian faith. There seems to be disagreements at times as to what those letters represent. Most agree, it was something Hezekiah felt he had to do to get God’s attention. From there, stories and sermons branch out in a million directions.

One thing few people do when looking at this story, or any story in the Bible for that matter, is look back and allow the Bible to explain itself. Most sermons jump from a few lines in this story into some real life, modern day event. That’s not what this book I am writing is about. We want to find how God communicates through His Word before we begin jumping ahead to modern times, or the future. How do we begin to look back?

There is a simple Bible Study procedure called something I can’t pronounce in theology circles. I simple look at it as, collecting all the information about a subject from different books in the Bible. Jerusalem’s fall is maybe the best and most comprehensive example to teach this simple process. Not only to teach, but to look at how, and what we learn from that process.

We find this story scattered in different book of the Bible. 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, and Isiah are major sources of information. In this example, we will see how much more information 2 Chronicles added.

2 Chronicles 29:3-11 NLTse (3) In the very first month of the first year of his reign, Hezekiah reopened the doors of the Temple of the LORD and repaired them. (4) He summoned the priests and Levites to meet him at the courtyard east of the Temple. (5) He said to them, “Listen to me, you Levites! Purify yourselves, and purify the Temple of the LORD, the God of your ancestors. Remove all the defiled things from the sanctuary. (6) Our ancestors were unfaithful and did what was evil in the sight of the LORD our God. They abandoned the LORD and his dwelling place; they turned their backs on him. (7) They also shut the doors to the Temple’s entry room, and they snuffed out the lamps. They stopped burning incense and presenting burnt offerings at the sanctuary of the God of Israel. (8) “That is why the LORD’s anger has fallen upon Judah and Jerusalem. He has made them an object of dread, horror, and ridicule, as you can see with your own eyes. (9) Because of this, our fathers have been killed in battle, and our sons and daughters and wives have been captured. (10) But now I will make a covenant with the LORD, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger will turn away from us. (11) My sons, do not neglect your duties any longer! The LORD has chosen you to stand in his presence, to minister to him, and to lead the people in worship and present offerings to him.”

Some people may not know how to locate this type of parallel chapter. By parallel chapters I mean, chapters following the same story and theme. The theme is of course found in the introduction and summation of the chapters. We won’t cover those areas in this example, because the link is so obvious, but we will cover some of the major points the author of 2 Chronicles recorded.

Hezekiah had a plan centered on cleaning up the temple. This shows how cleansing begins at home, and on the inside of a person. Looking at one series of key words associated with talking, we can see Hezekiah personally addressed the Levites. Whenever a king personally calls a meeting and addresses those present, we should pay attention. Most people miss little details like that. But as we’ve seen in other sections of this story, Hezekiah decided not to personally communicate with the Assyrian representative. Now we see Hezekiah personally addressing the Levites. This tells us which subject is more important on the spiritual level.

As we scan down the verses, we see one more word associated with verbal communication. Covenant can either be a written, verbal, or both types of communication are used. Who was Hezekiah communicating with when he made that covenant? God of course. Hezekiah identified the party he was making the covenant or agreement with. This established a personal relationship between Hezekiah and God, Hezekiah wanted to share with the Levites, as well as all the people in Judah. Without their cooperation, the covenant meant nothing. It was a group effort.

This section of the story from 2 Chronicles showed, Hezekiah had a previous experience with God. Other stories like David’s first and early encounter with Bathsheba show how that communication with God is often laid aside, even by the best of people. Stories like those show us how easy it is to reestablish or reopen those lines of communication with God. And that is exactly what Hezekiah did.

2 Chronicles tells us how Hezekiah viewed the problem in his kingdom, and how he planned to go about solving that portion of the issue at hand. Of course that doesn’t begin to explain all the different problems Judah faced, but it established a foundation to study them. As time went on, God showed Hezekiah and Judah a more detailed view of the problems, and plans to correct them. What we have to pay attention to is the way Hezekiah first turned to God, had a talk with Him, came to an agreement or understanding, and started at the most obvious place.

In this case Hezekiah began at the temple where he called in the people he should be able to trust more than anyone else. The Levites could also help to confirm messages from God. Their knowledge of the law was also helpful. Not to mention the fact, it was their duties they were neglecting. Once the Levites were on the same page with God, they became examples for the rest of the nation to follow.

This seems like such a simple process as easy to follow as a blueprint with a list of step by step instructions listed on the side. Of course with any building project, you begin at the foundation. Was the temple the foundation? Not really. Some people may think so. Some people may think the temple was the foundation in Jerusalem. Some people misapply the temple and make their own church building the foundation. If we only had a more attractive church with air conditioning, a better heating system, more comfortable pews, a better sound system, a larger audio video screen, updated lighting, and new strips in the parking lot, that would make God happy and make us grow. All that tinsel and glitter will never be an adequate substitute for what is in the heart. Buildings do not have a heart. Hezekiah told us where the project began, with talking to God and reaching an agreement. Every detail recorded in 2 Chronicles centered on service to God.

Purify yourselves, and purify the Temple of the LORD

Remove all the defiled things from the sanctuary.

My sons, do not neglect your duties any longer!

The LORD has chosen you to stand in his presence, to minister to him, and to lead the people in worship and present offerings to him.

Hezekiah also made a list of the services that ceased inside the temple. Each has a deeper spiritual meaning we can understand today.

They abandoned the LORD and his dwelling place. Where is God’s dwelling place? Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. (Ephesians 3:17 NLTse).

They also shut the doors to the Temple’s entry room. What doors are shut now? “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. (Revelation 3:20 NLTse).

And they snuffed out the lamps. David wrote about this long before Hezekiah’s time. Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. (Psalms 119:105 NLTse). Jesus also taught about that light. Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8:12 NLTse).

They stopped burning incense and presenting burnt offerings at the sanctuary of the God of Israel. The smoke of the incense, mixed with the prayers of God’s holy people, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out. (Revelation 8:4 NLTse). Isiah, who was involved throughout the entire fall of Jerusalem explained offerings better than anyone in scripture. Listen to the LORD, you leaders of “Sodom.” Listen to the law of our God, people of “Gomorrah.” “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?” says the LORD. “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to worship me, who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony? Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting– they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings. I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them! When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look. Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims. Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. If you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat. (Isaiah 1:10-19 NLTse).

It is so easy to learn the spiritual meaning of symbols sitting on the surface of these stories. But too many people have been trained by the world to study scripture in an earthly manner. They look for symbols and prophecies about this world. Their thinking is self centered, and selfish. Every symbol Hezekiah used points to the fact, we need to get ride of those attributes before we can get real with God. This simple example is showing how there were no physical symbols identified in this story. But Hezekiah concentrated on the personal side of the issue. Cleaning up the temple is a personal matter. And Hezekiah taught us how to begin that simple process. Each of the spiritual symbols Hezekiah used added more detail to that process, just like gathering more information about the event from Chronicles taught us more about the personal side of the story.

When we compare Hezekiah’s comments about Assyria in 2 Kings chapter 19 to his beginning in 2 Chronicles chapter 29, we see an unmistakable contract pointing out a simple lesson. Those idols Assyria clung onto couldn’t see, hear, or talk. They were useless. This reinforces the need for the spiritual restoration explained in 2 Chronicles chapter 29. The two messages combine to enhance details.

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Assyria Sent a Priest to Samaria

Posted by Ez1 Realty on October 7, 2017

2 Kings 17:24-29 NLTse The king of Assyria transported groups of people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim and resettled them in the towns of Samaria, replacing the people of Israel. They took possession of Samaria and lived in its towns. (25) But since these foreign settlers did not worship the LORD when they first arrived, the LORD sent lions among them, which killed some of them. (26) So a message was sent to the king of Assyria: “The people you have sent to live in the towns of Samaria do not know the religious customs of the God of the land. He has sent lions among them to destroy them because they have not worshiped him correctly.” (27) The king of Assyria then commanded, “Send one of the exiled priests back to Samaria. Let him live there and teach the new residents the religious customs of the God of the land.” (28) So one of the priests who had been exiled from Samaria returned to Bethel and taught the new residents how to worship the LORD. (29) But these various groups of foreigners also continued to worship their own gods. In town after town where they lived, they placed their idols at the pagan shrines that the people of Samaria had built.

This is an important part of scripture to remember. Samaria was the capital of Israel, the ten northern tribes. After Assyria conquered Samaria, they moved all the people out of Samaria, and transported people from other lands into Samaria. I’m not sure why they did that, or if it was some kind of custom people made up, or chose to follow.

When we look at stories like the woman Jesus met at the well in Samaria, we don’t know if the woman was of foreign decent, or an Israelite who returned to Samaria.

I’m not sure why God expected the new residents in Samaria to worship Him. His own people refused to worship Him. Why would God expect people from foreign lands to pick up on worshiping Him? Because they didn’t, God sent lions as a warning. When the king of Assyria heard about that, he sent a priest back to Samaria to teach the new people how to worship God. That seems like a strange thing for a pagan king to do. They normally force their own brand of religion on people. It seems everyone had respect for God, except Israel. Why do ya think God put in those details?

It seems the new people in Samaria went into business fabricating new gods for all the people Assyria moved in with them. Samaria was made up of people from all different lands, bringing in all kinds of different forms of worship. The fact people made a business out of catering to whatever people wanted to worship pointed to the fact, there was money in religion.

That adds a new detail to look at. Since God spent so much time explaining why He divorced Israel, we can add making money from idols as one of them. God mentioned a few mistakes Israel made, but He did not spend time and space to record all their sins.

That reminds me of people who dedicate their lives studying the enemy. They try to gain followers by posting everything they know about the enemy. They claim the enemy controls this church, that religion, those political parties, so on, and so forth. I ask them why they want to waste their lives studying the enemy. What are they trying to prove?

It may make sense to study and enemy in a physical war. But we are in a spiritual war Jesus already won for us. Battles continue, but the outcome of the war has already been determined. Now who you gonna trust for information? Jesus, who knew the enemy longer than any of us can imagine, and is the only one who actually defeated the devil. Not won a battle, won the war. Or are you going to trust someone who collects limited information from the world. A world that doesn’t see the full picture, and often misunderstands the battles, war, and the outcome. I’d choose to follow the winner long before I trusted people with a long list of defeats, and no ideas how to turn those into victories, other than to tell people, all they need to do is know about them.

Having been in the army, I do know a little about preparing for wars and battles. Higher ranking officers are in charge of studying the enemy. That is not the job of the soldier on the field. The soldier learns from the commanders, then applies that knowledge to the battlefield they are sent to. There it becomes a personal matter, looking at how the individuals in front of them react to offensives, and defensive maneuvers. Soldiers on the battlefield don’t worry about enemies miles away. If they did, they’d loose the battle in front of them.

People who claim to to experts on the enemy are pretending to be like God. They claim to know what the enemies are about to do. Some people claim to have access to secret records. Well how secret are those plans when some guy or woman working on a computer in their basement found them? More often than not, they copied something off the website of some other nut who made up the whole story. That is how rumors spread. Anyone with any military experience will tell you, rumors can and will loose battles and wars. Not only do people studying the enemy NOT know what they are doing, they have no idea how much harm they cause. The distractions they cause are bad enough on their own.

Let’s look at military training in real life. Soldiers train to achieve a high degree of discipline. Without discipline, an army is made up of individuals doing what they want, and not doing what they are told to do. Soldiers spend hours, days, weeks, and months training with their weapons to be the most effective soldiers on the battlefield. Soldiers become expert in the use of many weapons, including hand to hand combat. Soldiers tune their bodies and mind to become a fighting machine. How do we apply that to the spiritual battle?

Wannabe commanders who waste their lives studying the enemy want to take the easy way out. They want to be little generals shouting out orders, but have no idea what a spiritual weapon is, or how to use any of them. Studying the enemy made them weak, undisciplined, and useless. Who in their right mind would follow orders from a general with no idea what a weapon is, or how to use it? Another reason I’d follow Jesus and choose to ignore people trying to take over His command.

I don’t want to get into a long explanation of spiritual weapons. That could be another book. Those weapons are scattered out all over scripture. They range from faith, how to build faith, prayer, how to pray, words sent by God, His written Word, and the most important, how Jesus communicates. When the enemy cuts lines of communication, he gains a distinct advantage. We can’t allow that to happen.

A soldier is trained not only to use and clean his weapons, he is capable of explaining every detail. That is another important factor in God’s army, the ability to train other people on the weapons they have been equipped with, and trained to use. Basic training may come from God’s soldiers on earth. Advanced training comes from the One who won the war.

God didn’t spend a lot of time explaining everything Israel and those pagans did wrong, because we don’t need all those facts. We don’t need to know every intimate detail about the enemy. Like any soldier, Jesus will brief us about the mission He chooses to send us on. Like any commander, that briefing will come minutes before we are sent to serve.

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God Rejected Israel

Posted by Ez1 Realty on October 7, 2017

2 Kings 17:18-23 NLTse Because the LORD was very angry with Israel, he swept them away from his presence. Only the tribe of Judah remained in the land. (19) But even the people of Judah refused to obey the commands of the LORD their God, for they followed the evil practices that Israel had introduced. (20) The LORD rejected all the descendants of Israel. He punished them by handing them over to their attackers until he had banished Israel from his presence. (21) For when the LORD tore Israel away from the kingdom of David, they chose Jeroboam son of Nebat as their king. But Jeroboam drew Israel away from following the LORD and made them commit a great sin. (22) And the people of Israel persisted in all the evil ways of Jeroboam. They did not turn from these sins (23) until the LORD finally swept them away from his presence, just as all his prophets had warned. So Israel was exiled from their land to Assyria, where they remain to this day.

Eventually Israel met their match. One generation had to suffer for the mistakes all the other generations made. It wasn’t quite like that, it was more like those previous generations send their children into a spiritual fire they kindled over time. No one stopped long enough to think, someone had to one day pay for all those sins.

Like a divorce trail, God gave evidence for His final decision. Once that decision was reached, there was no turning back. Israel lost their land like loosing the house in a divorce. Israel lost more than their land. They lost all their wealth, pride, and dignity. There was nothing left. A nation who served the gods Israel went after relocated the entire nation, and sent people from other nations to live in homes, and land God once gave to Israel as a permanent possession. Israel had to live with the decisions they made. And God had to live with the decision He made.

The only thing remaining was to see if Judah would learn from the lesson. If God did that to Israel, what was stopping Him from doing the same things to Judah?

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Elisha’s First Miracle

Posted by Ez1 Realty on September 23, 2017

2 Kings 2:19-25 NLTse One day the leaders of the town of Jericho visited Elisha. “We have a problem, my lord,” they told him. “This town is located in pleasant surroundings, as you can see. But the water is bad, and the land is unproductive.” (20) Elisha said, “Bring me a new bowl with salt in it.” So they brought it to him. (21) Then he went out to the spring that supplied the town with water and threw the salt into it. And he said, “This is what the LORD says: I have purified this water. It will no longer cause death or infertility.” (22) And the water has remained pure ever since, just as Elisha said. (23) Elisha left Jericho and went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, a group of boys from the town began mocking and making fun of him. “Go away, baldy!” they chanted. “Go away, baldy!” (24) Elisha turned around and looked at them, and he cursed them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of them. (25) From there Elisha went to Mount Carmel and finally returned to Samaria.

This was the beginning of Elijah’s ministry. It began at Jericho, the first city conquered by Joshua in the promised land. God brought down its walls after Israel marched around the city for seven days. There were a number of other delays before that walk around Jericho. So many delays, we can see how God gave people inside Jericho time to leave.

Rahab, the prostitute who hid Israel’s two spies, and her family were the only people spared. She told the spies what Jericho knew about Israel, God, what happened in Egypt, and how frightened the city was. But those people inside Jericho decided to trust in their leaders, who shut the gates, to keep Israel out, and their subjects and wealth inside.

Now God sent Elisha to Jericho to heal it. What a change. What a blessing. What a way to share Elijah’s double portion of Spirit. What a lesson for us. God healed the land and water around the first city conquered in the promised land.

The story about those two bears mauling forty-two children is a little difficult to understand. Why would Elisha heal a city, then suddenly kill forty-two children using two bears? Somehow the stories have to be linked.

Who was in Jericho at the time? Israel was. One of the most important things Israel was supposed to do in the promised land was teach their children. One of those things was to understand what a prophet from God was, what they stood for, and how to tell a good prophet from a false prophet. Those children had to die to show how their parents failed. You know those parents anguished over the death of their children, but many of them asked why, or took responsibility for their deaths.

One of the most important things we’re supposed to teaching today is that power of Elijah. A power men, women, and children are supposed to experience. But how many people know what that power is, where it comes from, and how to use it? How many people care? Elisha was disrespected, and look how many lives that cost. What price do we have to pay to disrespect God in the last days? How many children have to die because parents are too lazy to teach their children?

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Elijah 1 Kings 19

Posted by Ez1 Realty on September 23, 2017

1 Kings 19:1-7 NLTse When Ahab got home, he told Jezebel everything Elijah had done, including the way he had killed all the prophets of Baal. (2) So Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: “May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them.” (3) Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. (4) Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.” (5) Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” (6) He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again. (7) Then the angel of the LORD came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.”

After looking at the relationship Solomon’s temple had with money, and the lack of relationship Jerusalem had with God, I think this is a good chapter to look at. Elijah fled Samaria as soon as Ahab told Jezebel, Elijah killed all her prophets. It seemed like a good thing to do at the time. Was that what God wanted? If we take an honest look at what Elijah did, we have to admit, God’s plans usually don’t include the measure of fear Elijah experienced. Let’s face it, Elijah displayed superhuman faith and courage to face about none hundred of Jezebel’s prophets alone. It took an awful lot of faith to stand in front of a huge crowd waiting for God to set fire to a pile of wet wood. What changed Elijah so quickly? Did Elijah experience some type of separation from God when he arrived at Samaria? Did the sites and sounds of the city distract Elijah long enough to take his mind off God?

All we know is, Elijah had to get out of town and back in touch with God as soon as he could. Was one little threat from a queen enough to shake Elijah? Or is there more behind this story we’re not seeing yet?

For some reason Elijah left his servant behind and continued his journey alone. Since Elijah was a prophet, we can see, he knew he needed time alone with God. When Elijah felt that fear, he knew something was wrong, and he knew where to go for answers.

When we compare what Elijah did with what we saw kings in Jerusalem doing in the previous chapter, we can see a good point God is making. Jerusalem’s kings were a few steps away from God’s throne in earth, but couldn’t make the journey. Elijah had to get out of town and go on a journey lasting days. God was there to feed Elijah. An angel told Elijah to eat, because there was a long journey ahead. “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.” Why such a long journey for one of God’s most faithful servants, while people who chose to ignore God had only a few steps?

There is a relationship between what we know about God, how far we have to go, and what we need to do to get to the next step. Finding God has never seemed easy to do. Most of the time, that first meeting is only a step away, but people build huge walls that need to be crossed, or traveled around. After what Elijah experienced, he shouldn’t have allowed fear to guide him. Fear was a long wall Elijah had to get around. God used a long journey to illustrate that long, spiritual, and emotional journey.

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Jeroboam’s New Religion

Posted by Ez1 Realty on September 16, 2017

1 Kings 12:26-33 NLTse Jeroboam thought to himself, “Unless I am careful, the kingdom will return to the dynasty of David. (27) When these people go to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the Temple of the LORD, they will again give their allegiance to King Rehoboam of Judah. They will kill me and make him their king instead.” (28) So on the advice of his counselors, the king made two gold calves. He said to the people, “It is too much trouble for you to worship in Jerusalem. Look, Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of Egypt!” (29) He placed these calf idols in Bethel and in Dan–at either end of his kingdom. (30) But this became a great sin, for the people worshiped the idols, traveling as far north as Dan to worship the one there. (31) Jeroboam also erected buildings at the pagan shrines and ordained priests from the common people–those who were not from the priestly tribe of Levi. (32) And Jeroboam instituted a religious festival in Bethel, held on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, in imitation of the annual Festival of Shelters in Judah. There at Bethel he himself offered sacrifices to the calves he had made, and he appointed priests for the pagan shrines he had made. (33) So on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a day that he himself had designated, Jeroboam offered sacrifices on the altar at Bethel. He instituted a religious festival for Israel, and he went up to the altar to burn incense.

I like the way the author introduced this part of the story. “Jeroboam thought to himself…” Jeroboam didn’t ask God. Jeroboam knew his ideas were bad, evil to say the least. But he was convinced, that was the best way to do things.

Jeroboam was afraid of loosing his kingdom. How quickly he forgot, God gave him that kingdom. Jeroboam also forgot the conditions God placed on him and the kingdom. Jeroboam did the opposite of what God told him to do. What kind of result did Jeroboam expect to see?

We also see how Jeroboam set up his own cabinet of advisers just like Rehoboam did. When we see something like this repeated in scripture, we’d better pay attention. Then we see another vital detail repeated. Jeroboam’s advisers told him to make two gold calves. Were they just like the concept and design Israel carried out of Egypt in Exodus? When we see details like that repeated, we know we have to pay attention, and go back to review.

Most people are more in tune with the Hollywood version of Aaron and his golden calf. The story is found in Exodus chapter 32. The only thing most people know about that calf is, Aaron tried to pass the blame for that calf off to the people. But a lot of details lead up to that story.

Of course most people know, God placed a series of plagues on Egypt to convince Pharaoh to let his slaves in Israel go. Before leaving Egypt, God used the Passover to reintroduce the priesthood at the family level. That’s where it had been with Abraham, Issac, Jacob, and when we look back, all the way back to Adam. Then God opened up the Red Sea to allow Israel through, but drowned the Egyptian army. A month after leaving Egypt, God met the entire nation of Israel at His mountain. People like to place all kinds of spiritual interpretations on mountains all over the Bible. How about looking at a mountain where you go to personally meet God? That may be a little rough for some people to accept, based on the fact, Israel faced a major decision at the mountain. To follow God on His terms, or their own.

Moses already made the decision, and dedicated his life to following God. He climbed that mountain to meet with God. Joshua went with him. Moses came back with chapter after chapter of information containing details about the Ark and Tabernacle. Moses also came back with pages of special instructions explaining God’s Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments Israel first accepted, then later decided not to follow. At first, God gave those commandments in a verbal form. God would have explained each one on a personal level, but Israel turned down that offer. So God gave Moses a set of stones with those Commandments written on them, so they wouldn’t forget them. Those stones also represented the set of Ten Commandments in Heaven. The Commandments and law Jesus is using to judge this world.

When Moses returned to the mountain, people got this crazy idea to make a god just like one of those they had in Egypt. There must have been a long discussion about which god to copy, since they had a lot to choose from. Israel must have decided to appoint a committee to make the decision. That committee was their first idol. Compared to a committee, that golden idol Aaron made was easy to deal with. Moses burnt in in a fire, smashed it, ground it into powder, and made them drink it in water. That was to remind them, there was too much Egypt they carried away with themselves. Eventually that gold passed though all of them, and was dumped in the wilderness in a form no one was about to try and recover the little specs of gold from. God knew what He was going to make a point.

God had His own way of showing what good that stuff Israel brought out of Egypt was. Sure gold, silver, and bronze carried out of Egypt was used in the Tabernacle, but those metals were melted and purified. And the wood. That was taken from the wilderness they settled in while making the Tabernacle. The linen curtains were made, most likely from thread taken from Egypt, but hand formed into something new and useful. The rebuilding process for the Tabernacle reflects our own rebuilding process. We are all different, and our journey requires many steps.

What about Jeroboam? What did he take out of Egypt and why? We saw how Jeroboam had to leave his family, friends, and life behind when he fled to Egypt. If he carried anger into Egypt, that surely influenced his interests and motivation in Egypt. Jeroboam should have been happy God promised him a kingdom. If he refused to give all the credit to God, he left himself wide open to spiritual attacks from the enemy.

Knowing how Solomon felt about the temple left Jeroboam with a sour attitude towards God, and the from of worship Jeroboam should have know about. The wrong attitude forced Jeroboam to lash out any way he could. Jeroboam didn’t know he was lashing out at God. Jeroboam was too busy lashing out at Solomon, the man who cost Jeroboam his job, and many years of his life separated from where he wanted to be.

We often see the same attitude with Christian splinter groups. A small group of people get upset over some subject. They decide to leave. A personal attachment to the building and some of the people remain, or is carried away with them. To lash out at the powers in control, they begin to go over the deep end, making rash decisions they think is serving God, but really serving themselves, and their new found, often unbiblical ideas. They may not go as far a Jeroboam, but they linger on the fringes of spiritual apostasy.

When you create your own religion, of course you have to establish a new tradition to appoint your own priests. Another misconception people have with scripture. You can tell their new religion is their own concept when they continue to establish a new organized form of worship, while neglecting God’s simple plan of placing the priesthood in the home.

Jeroboam went as far as instituting new festivals to honor himself and his new religion. Placing his festival one month after the Festival of Shelters showed how spiteful Jeroboam was. When we look at this on a weekly, base seven, this becomes a prophetic message, showing how God’s Sabbath was moved from the seventh to the first day of the week. In a base seven numbering system, eighth begins a new series of numbers restarting with one, and adding a second digit.

Would all of those stories together tell us how people establish new traditions, and how they distract people away from God’s simple plan of salvation? What is the connection between taxes and traditions?

As a whole, traditions separate people from God. As a whole, taxes take the focus off God by teaching people, we can solve all our problems. All we need is more money. More money to spend on committees of the nations greatest minds to tell us how to solve problems. More money to spend on projects, which is nothing more than building monuments to men. The Bible has a story telling us how Babel tried that. They built a tower. God let them get so far before He said, “enough it enough.” That tower failed. That tower took a lot of tax dollars to build. That tower stood as a man made monument against God. That tower showed how men didn’t trust God.

Jeroboam raised taxes to build towns, and establish a new religion heaped with new traditions to honor himself. God established worship, festivals, laws, commandments, and His own version of taxes, each to honor himself, and to teach about His plan of salvation for this fallen world. When we see stories like this one about Jeroboam, we see men trying to become God. What happened to Jeroboam and his kingdom? They are gone, but God is still here with us.

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Zechariah 3:8-10 The Branch

Posted by Ez1 Realty on May 19, 2017

PF Proverbs to Malachi

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Zechariah 3:8-10 NLTse “Listen to me, O Jeshua the high priest, and all you other priests. You are symbols of things to come. Soon I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. (9) Now look at the jewel I have set before Jeshua, a single stone with seven facets. I will engrave an inscription on it, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, and I will remove the sins of this land in a single day. (10) “And on that day, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, each of you will invite your neighbor to sit with you peacefully under your own grapevine and fig tree.”

This seems to be one of the more unusual prophecies about Jesus. In it Zechariah refers to Jesus as a Branch. I’ve seen people use this as proof texts to identify a symbol in other parts of the Bible, but I’ve never seen anyone try to explain this prophecy as it stands. Once again we have a prophecy in a chapter that is divided into two parts. One of those parts is the prophecy and in this case summation. The other part of course is the introduction. As we already know from previous studies, the introduction and summation are vital parts of a chapter. They explain the context of the chapter. When associated with a prophecy, the introduction and summation also ensure we apply the correct theme to the prophecy.

PRM Front Cover Book 8 Isa 63 to Zech 3

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Once we highlight the key words, two things are apparent. Branch is not repeated. Although it is associated with the LORD, that is not apparent until we identify the symbol. So we can see, the symbol is not the most important feature in the Texts. Branch is not a word we would use to search for a parallel chapter or the fulfillment of the prophecy. What conclusion does that lead us to? Context is more important than symbolism. The author wants us to understand the theme and lesson in scripture before we go off hunting to solve the meaning of a symbol.

When you think of it, what is more important, solving a symbol or learning the lesson locked away within the scripture? The lesson of course. When you discipline a child, which is more important? What the belt symbolizes, or the lesson you are teaching? The biggest belt in the world is not going to make a difference if the child keeps making the same mistake. No wonder the world views God as a tyrant and wants nothing to do with Him. Preachers keep emphasizing symbols of gloom and doom while they have absolutely no idea what the lesson is. As a spokesman for God they’ve failed. Their success rate at leading people to God is as miserable as the message they create.

My dad always said, “don’t complain unless you got a better idea.” Well let’s do something completely different from what the world does. Let’s let God’s Word explain this prophecy and see what He wanted it to say. In this case we are limited on key words to use to search for related texts. We can use either priest or the combination of engrave and inscription. I put the study away for a night and prayed about it. I thought this study wasn’t going to lead anywhere.

In the morning I thought of a few texts in Hebrews. I could see how Hebrews explained how priests were used as a symbol. After all, a great deal of Hebrews explained that very subject in detail. Now it was a matter of searching the New Testament texts with the word priest. There are more than a few. Reading each one will tell you which fit the context of Zechariah 3 and which do not. A few in Hebrews seemed to be the best fit. The introduction and summations in Hebrews 2 appear to add the most amount of detail to those in Zechariah 3. The lessons unfold as we compare key words and texts in each chapter.

Hebrews 2:10-18 NLTse God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation. (11) So now Jesus and the ones he makes holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters. (12) For he said to God, “I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters. I will praise you among your assembled people.” (13) He also said, “I will put my trust in him,” that is, “I and the children God has given me.” (14) Because God’s children are human beings–made of flesh and blood–the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. (15) Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. (16) We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. (17) Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. (18) Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.

The prophecy in Zechariah 3 used the key word priest to draw our attention to one verse. “Listen to me, O Jeshua the high priest, and all you other priests. You are symbols of things to come. Soon I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. Hebrews 2 is one of those chapters that explained how that prophecy was fulfilled. Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. So we see how using key words leads us to the correct interpretation of the symbol Branch, in addition to showing us the lesson that goes hand in hand with the prophecy. Using the symbol to search for its spiritual meaning may or may not lead to the correct interpretation and in most cases will not lead to the lesson associated with the symbol. In most cases, teachers use the symbol to search for a meaning, and what do they do after they locate something they think fits? They preach what they think it means. In this example we let the key words lead us to scripture which told us, Jesus became like us and then became God’s High Priest. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Every symbol points to a much greater fulfillment. In this case we see Branch does point to Jesus and two very important aspects of His ministry. He left His throne in Heaven to become like us. What lessons does that bring to mind? We are also shown Jesus had to go through a process to become that sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. This example showing how to study within context reveals not only the proper interpretation of the symbol, but the lesson.

Zechariah repeated another series of words. Now look at the jewel I have set before Jeshua, a single stone with seven facets. I will engrave and inscription on it, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, and I will remove the sins of this land in a single day. We see engrave and inscription are related to the removal of sins. At this point we have a choice. We can try to explain the symbolism ourselves, use the symbols to search for an answer, or stick to the context by looking for related words in the recorded fulfillment we located.

Hebrews 2:10-18 repeated key words brothers and sisters, children, human beings, and descendants. We can see an emphasis on Jesus’ close connection with us, human beings. From this point we could go on with a number of verses from a number of books describing that connection and love. We can see a spiritual connection between engrave and inscription with human beings. After we understand that relationship, we can look at scripture that connection reminds us of. “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it. (Revelation 2:17 NLTse). Here we see the related word engraved as well as the word stone. Now here is an important detail to always remember when a symbol is used to search for a related texts. Always check the context. We verify context by looking at the introduction and summation.

Revelation 2:1-3 NLTse “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus. This is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lampstands: (2) “I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. (3) You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.

Revelation 2:26-29 NLTse (26) To all who are victorious, who obey me to the very end, To them I will give authority over all the nations. (27) They will rule the nations with an iron rod and smash them like clay pots. (28) They will have the same authority I received from my Father, and I will also give them the morning star! (29) “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.

We see the introduction and summation both deal with a message. Both the introduction and summation tell where that message comes from. This is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lampstands: “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. This is the main theme in the chapter and shows us how the stone engraved with a new name relates to the main theme. Look at other key words and phrases concerning that stone. I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. A new name that no one understands except the one who receives it. Manna is another spiritual word with a physical and spiritual meaning. We also see when that name is received, those who receive the new name with understand it.

How does Revelation relate to the Branch in Zechariah? Both refer to a stone. Zechariah referred to a symbol. Revelation tells us how to understand that symbol and others. The message given in Revelation is from Jesus, the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lampstands. We receive understanding from His Spirit. This may seem like simple details but we are accumulating a list of details about the Branch and symbol the high priest Jeshua in Zechariah points to. It is also a lesson showing how context will develop its own list.

The branch tells us:

Priests are symbols of things to come.

Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation.

Jesus and the ones he makes holy have the same Father.

Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters.

The Son also became flesh and blood.

Only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death.

Jesus is our merciful and faithful High Priest before God.

Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people.

Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.

The stone tells us:

I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance.

You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not.

You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.

I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven.

The stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.

They will have the same authority I received from my Father, and I will also give them the morning star!

Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.

What would you learn if you followed the general method used to find the meaning of a symbol? I’m sure you would have found out the Branch represents Jesus. But what would you learn? Would that simple method teach any lessons? Look what context showed. Which Bible Study method leads to the greater understanding of God and His Word you are looking for?

I don’t want to miss a detail. When scripture tells me there is a name I am going to understand, I’m going to look back on scripture to see if there is a name I need to understand. There is one, Jeshua. The only thing to do is look it up in the Hebrew dictionary.

H3091 יהושׁע יהושׁוּע yehôshûa‛ yehôshûa‛

yeh-ho-shoo’-ah, yeh-ho-shoo’-ah

From H3068 and H3467; Jehovah-saved; Jehoshua (that is, Joshua), the Jewish leader: – Jehoshua, Jehoshuah, Joshua. Compare H1954, H3442.

H3068 יהוה yehôvâh


From H1961; (the) self Existent or eternal; Jehovah, Jewish national name of God: – Jehovah, the Lord. Compare H3050, H3069.

H3467 ישׁע yâsha‛


A primitive root; properly to be open, wide or free, that is, (by implication) to be safe; causatively to free or succor: – X at all, avenging, defend, deliver (-er), help, preserve, rescue, be safe, bring (having) salvation, save (-iour), get victory.

We can see the name itself tells us, God will open up a way to free us, to be saved. There is one more thing we have to compare, the introductions. We’ve already compared the summaries in the prophecy and its recorded fulfillment.

Zechariah 3:1-7 NLTse Then the angel showed me Jeshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD. The Accuser, Satan, was there at the angel’s right hand, making accusations against Jeshua. (2) And the LORD said to Satan, “I, the LORD, reject your accusations, Satan. Yes, the LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebukes you. This man is like a burning stick that has been snatched from the fire.” (3) Jeshua’s clothing was filthy as he stood there before the angel. (4) So the angel said to the others standing there, “Take off his filthy clothes.” And turning to Jeshua he said, “See, I have taken away your sins, and now I am giving you these fine new clothes.” (5) Then I said, “They should also place a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean priestly turban on his head and dressed him in new clothes while the angel of the LORD stood by. (6) Then the angel of the LORD spoke very solemnly to Jeshua and said, (7) “This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: If you follow my ways and carefully serve me, then you will be given authority over my Temple and its courtyards. I will let you walk among these others standing here.

Hebrews 2:1-9 NLTse So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it. (2) For the message God delivered through angels has always stood firm, and every violation of the law and every act of disobedience was punished. (3) So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard him speak? (4) And God confirmed the message by giving signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit whenever he chose. (5) And furthermore, it is not angels who will control the future world we are talking about. (6) For in one place the Scriptures say, “What are people that you should think of them, or a son of man that you should care for him? (7) Yet you made them only a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. (8) You gave them authority over all things.” Now when it says “all things,” it means nothing is left out. But we have not yet seen all things put under their authority. (9) What we do see is Jesus, who was given a position “a little lower than the angels”; and because he suffered death for us, he is now “crowned with glory and honor.” Yes, by God’s grace, Jesus tasted death for everyone.

Both chapters deal with angels. The angel showed Zechariah a vision of Jeshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD. We already know Jeshua is a symbol pointing to Jesus. We found this information by following general rules of context. The Accuser, Satan, was there at the angel’s right hand, making accusations against Jeshua. This reveals the war Jesus and Satan are fighting this very moment. As usual, symbols always point to a greater fulfillment. Hebrews showed us how Jesus became human to share the same conflicts we face. Being accused by Satan is included in those trials. So Jeshua the high priest represents both Jesus and us. Jesus had to endure Satan’s accusations longer then we have. The LORD said to Satan, “I, the LORD, reject your accusations, Satan. Yes, the LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebukes you. This gets into a long process. We have to ask how and why God rejected Satan’s accusations.

Jeshua’s clothing was filthy as he stood there before the angel. Zechariah introduced another symbol, clothing. Once again we stick with context and allow God’s Word to explain both the symbol and the lesson. “See, I have taken away your sins, and now I am giving you these fine new clothes.” Most of the time symbols are explained in the chapter it is found in.

General rules of context tells us the summaries should follow the same theme and teach the same lesson. Zechariah described a trial where God changed Jeshua’s clothing, representing removal or cleaning of sins. Hebrews introduced another view or concept of a trial. So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it. For the message God delivered through angels has always stood firm, and every violation of the law and every act of disobedience was punished. The key point in Hebrews 2 is to listen to the message. Hebrews added the concept of punishment to the theme of a trial. If we looked at judgment from the any view point without considering the chance of punishment, we would never understand the full message. So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard him speak? God knew the world would find a way to introduce concepts that would make people ignore or forget the concept of a trial on all its levels. Satan not only used accusations, but deceptions. One of those things he is going to accuse people of is not knowing the truth because they never took salvation seriously. Look at who first announced that salvation – Jesus. When Satan accuses people of not knowing the full story of salvation, he is accusing them of not knowing Jesus. And God confirmed the message by giving signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit whenever he chose. Not only do those people not know Jesus, they can’t see or understand God’s signs, wonders, miracles, gifts, or Holy Spirit.

We see another rule of context to follow. When scripture is quoted, we need to review the entire chapter. Psalms 8 is a short chapter that will not take long to review.

Psalms 8:1-9 NLTse O LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth! Your glory is higher than the heavens. (2) You have taught children and infants to tell of your strength, silencing your enemies and all who oppose you. (3) When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers– the moon and the stars you set in place– (4) what are people that you should think about them, mere mortals that you should care for them? (5) Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor. (6) You gave them charge of everything you made, putting all things under their authority– (7) the flocks and the herds and all the wild animals, (8) the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea, and everything that swims the ocean currents. (9) O LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!

Psalms 8 begins and ends with praise to God by describing His position. Lord, your majestic name fills the earth! Lord, your majestic name fills the earth! When we see texts like this creating an introduction and summation, we know every word in between must fit the theme. We are lower than God. There’s no question about that. Jesus chose to take a position to be like us, to be tempted like us, to experience pain, suffering, heat, cold, and heartache like us. And to be accused like us. How many court trials did Jesus face? Satan was there at all of them Review them for yourself. Were those trails fair?

The key words we needed to pay attention to in Hebrews 2 told us how we need to listen to the message announced by Jesus Himself. That’s the same theme recorded in Revelation 2. Zechariah 3 told us we should see what the symbol the high priest Jeshua pointed to. The most important point is to see the connection. Knowing the message is just as important as knowing where to get the information from.

Many of you have heard sermons or read other studies about the Branch mentioned in Zechariah 3. How deep did those lessons go? I can tell you one thing. Knowing that Branch represents Jesus will not get you very far. Knowing Jesus existed is not enough. Salvation requires more than knowing Jesus existed as a historical figure. You have to know Him and His Spirit. What is Jesus going to answer when Satan points out you don’t know Him? Is Jesus going to be able to introduce evidence of time you spent together, conversations you had, signs, wonders, and miracles Jesus performed in your prayer list you recognized and praised Him for? Have you acknowledged Jesus like David did in Psalm 8? Is your life putting evidence on Jesus’ side of the courtroom, or Satan’s?

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Psalms 8:5-6 Crowned with Glory and Honor

Posted by Ez1 Realty on March 28, 2017

PF PsalmsPsalms 8:5-6 KJ2000 For you have made him a little lower than the angels, and have crowned him with glory and honor. (6) You made him to have dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet:

This is a familiar prophecy about Jesus. This gives you the chance to reflect on your understanding of the texts before reading this study. Are you more familiar with the Old Testament or New Testament passage. What does it mean to make Christ a little lower than the angels? What does it mean for Jesus to have dominion or to have all things under His feet? This study is a good example of how one chapter expounds on another. It’s not by chance God introduced this lesson in a study of a text many people are familiar with. As easy as it may seem to locate the parallel New Testament texts, the key words contain another example of related words. Lower, dominion, and under are related in context. Recognizing the three related words makes searching easier.

PRM Front Cover Book 3 Kings Through Psalms 30Ephesians 1:19-22 NLTse (19) I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power (20) that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. (21) Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else–not only in this world but also in the world to come. (22) God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church.

The word under turns out to be the key word connecting it to Ephesians 1:19-22 where we also see the phrase, all things repeated. In his letter Paul prays, “ that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power.” Paul includes one example of God’s power. “This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.” Paul’s example not only tells us God has power to raise Jesus from the dead, but everyone. Paul also gives us a great sense of security knowing Jesus is, “at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.” Jesus has power and authority above every power on earth, the fulfillment of the prophecy recorded in Psalms 8:5-6. What other lessons are taught in these two parallel chapters? We find out by comparing the introductions and summations.

Psalms 8:1-4 NLTse O LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth! Your glory is higher than the heavens. (2) You have taught children and infants to tell of your strength, silencing your enemies and all who oppose you. (3) When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers– the moon and the stars you set in place– (4) what are people that you should think about them, mere mortals that you should care for them?

We see David’s typical prayer style in Psalm 8. Notice how David begins his prayer by praising God? I noticed one thing missing from the Bible, instructions on how to praise God. We have God’s law. All the instructions on sacrifices. Jesus tells us how to pray, but no writer explains how to praise God. David’s Psalms are the best example. Notice how David often praises God at the beginning, middle, and end of his prayers. David will praise God, state his need, then praise God again by saying he knows God will do the right thing. Notice how David praises God. “Lord, your majestic name fills the earth! Your glory is higher than the heavens.” David provides a description of God. To add to that, David tells how God can use children to silence His enemies. David reminds us, the power is not in us, but in Him. I love the way David remembers God is the Creator. In this prayer, David makes it a point to include God’s compassion. “What are people that you should think about them, mere mortals that you should care for them? Now to compare David’s praise to Paul’s introduction in his letter to the Ephesians.

Ephesians 1:2-9 NLTse May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you and peace. (3) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. (4) Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. (5) God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. (6) So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. (7) He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. (8) He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. (9) God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure.

Paul knows how David praised God. Paul begins his letter by reminding the Ephesians to praise God. Like David, Paul also praised God, because He is the creator. In His praise, Paul includes both God and His Son Jesus. Paul is establishing the theme of his letter, which is to ensure his readers, Jesus fulfilled His mission on earth and now reigns with God in Heaven. Paul also shows God’s compassion. “God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ.” There are so many parallels it would be difficult to cover them all. So far we have seen John describe the dominion David prophesied about. The works of God’s hands are His people. The dominion Jesus has is our praise. We see this when we compare the summations of the two chapters.

Psalms 8:6-9 NLTse You gave them charge of everything you made, putting all things under their authority— (7) the flocks and the herds and all the wild animals, (8) the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea, and everything that swims the ocean currents. (9) O LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!

Ephesians 1:22-23 NLTse (22) God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. (23) And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

When we consider David’s praise from his point of view, we see how he concentrates on God’s creation. The first thing David mentions is the flocks and herds he needs to feed his kingdom, and provide sacrifices to God. Of course those sacrifices all pointed to Jesus. Paul’s praise is based on seeing and understanding God’s plan of salvation. In essence, Paul is finishing David’s prayer by adding details David could not see. This is an important part of the Bible Study lesson. We’re shown how New Testament writers with increased light are able to share eye witness reports about Jesus’ ministry from the heart. Which is what studying in context will do for us. Each lesson you study on your own will bring new light to your eyes. “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!” (Matthew 6:19-23 NLTse). Jesus’ dominion is His Word. We praise Jesus and honor His dominion when we let Jesus’ Spirit walk us through a study by letting His Words lead us from one texts to another, one chapter to another. If you think you can take Jesus’ Spirit out of a study and use God’s Word to prove your thoughts, beliefs, and doctrines, your trying to mix light with darkness. In essence, your trying to serve two masters, your personal beliefs, and God’s Spirit.

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